Hart's Local Grocers

Rochester, New York

Winner of 2016 AIA Rochester Design Excellence Award

Downtown Rochester has been without a full-service grocery store for 20 years. With the rapid growth of downtown living, this “food desert” in the center city recently became a significant issue of discussion, particularly between Downtown residents and in the media. In response to this need, Hart’s Local Grocers, an independent start-up, launched a new city market that would offer “a perfect combination of local food, regional cuisine, and daily grocery needs”.

Located in Rochester’s Cultural District, and originally constructed in 1930 as an automotive repair shop, this underutilized masonry building met the criteria of: a center city location, close proximity to public transit, and within walking and biking distance for much of the Downtown population. The new 18,000 square foot grocery store maintains the open volume of the former automotive shop, with exposed structural steel joists and columns, a polished concrete floor slab, exposed ductwork and piping, that reveal the building’s industrial past.

The street façade includes transparent storefront along its entire width, bringing the exterior environment inside while allowing passers-by to see in. Café seating is located along the exterior wall, and expands out onto the sidewalk during the warmer months. A primary circulation spine runs through the center of the space, linking the café, prepared foods, deli, and butcher shop, much like a “Main Street”. This creates an active public thoroughfare where spontaneous interactions are common. 

Since its opening, Hart’s Local Grocers has become a central meeting place and important resource for the Downtown community.