Former tavern being transformed to high-end apartments, restaurant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Holley site gets new life with extensive renovations

Photos by Tom Rivers – This building used to have a wooden exterior when it was Tagg’s Tavern. The wood was removed to reveal cast iron columns in front. Dan and Monica Seeler needed to rebuild walls, paint them and make numerous other improvements for one of the most prominent buildings in Holley. The site will have an awning when it is expected to open as a restaurant and bar in the spring.

The Holley Falls Bar and Grill is awaiting cosmetic work inside. Otherwise, the extensive remodeling is mostly complete. The restaurant will have room to seat 60 people with another 20 spots in the bar.

HOLLEY – Dan and Monica Seeler have been asked if they are crazy for taking on perhaps the most ambitious renovation and transformation project in Holley’s recent history.

The couple moved from Hamlin to Holley seven years ago. They see a lot of potential in Holley, a close-knit small town with a collection of historic commercial and public buildings around the Public Square.

The former Tagg’s Tavern had been vacant for several years when the Seelers bought it four years ago. They envisioned the Holley Falls Bar and Grill in the tavern, with high-end apartments upstairs and in a neighboring site, a former barbershop. (The Holley Falls are located down Frisbee Terrace, a short walk from the restaurant.)

The restaurant gives a view of the Public Square, including a former church that is now a residential site. “We have given it new life,” Dan Seeler said about the building.

It would take a major transformation to pull off the transformation. The Seelers have three of the apartments ready with two more to go. The bar and grill is down to the cosmetics. That business should open in the spring.

The Seelers have won the respect from many in the community for their commitment to excellence, and for what people see as a draw to the community, a business that could pull in customers for other merchants.

“It will be an asset to the village,” said Jonathan Ross, owner of Jonathan’s Pastry at 23 Public Square, two storefronts down from the Seelers. “It will build up the value of Holley.”

Dan Seeler stands in one of the apartments above the Holley Falls Bar and Grill. There are three apartments, ranging from 900 to 1,100 square feet, above the restaurant.

Ross said the village has benefitted from another recent major remodel: the Save-A-Lot in the former Jubilee. The Seelers’ project adds to that movement in the business district.

“It’s all about the traffic flow,” Ross said about the business district. “(The new restaurant) should bring other people from outside Holley.”

The Seelers have been working on the transformation at Tagg’s for three years. It hasn’t been easy. They were approved for $130,000 in matching grant through the NY Main Street program. They won’t get that money until the project is done.

They actually were approved for two grants with $80,000 towards the former Tagg’s and $50,000 for the extensive remodeling of the former barbershop building. They needed to wait for state approvals before doing most of the work.

The Seelers put up this new building, which includes their office, two apartments and the kitchen for the restaurant. The previous structure collapsed following the brutal winter.

Last winter’s punishing cold proved the final blow for the barbershop building. When the Seelers prepared to work on the site early this summer, the building collapsed.

They removed the debris and have built a new structure. However, instead of $50,000 in grant money for the project they will only get $17,000 because the historic building is gone. They had intended to just do interior renovations of the building, not construct a new site.

The Seelers were out $33,000 in grant funds and also had to spend more on the project with a new building. Mr. Seeler was sad to see the old structure go. He prides himself in bringing back sites that have been long neglected. But the building proved too far gone.

Dan Seeler heads into one of the new apartments above the future Holley Falls Bar and Grill. The entrance to the apartments is in an elevated courtyard.

Tagg’s was nearly at the point of no return, he said.

“This building was on its last legs,” he said.

He has repaired masonry walls, replaced floors and strengthened the structure. When he took off the wooden exterior, he discovered the orginal cast iron columns for the façade. They have been spiffed up and now are proudly part of the building’s look.

Seeler, 57, has worked in the commercial construction business for 40 years. A carpenter by trade, he has led the renovation effort at the Tagg’s site with help from his two sons, Jesse and Sean. Mrs. Seeler will run the steak and seafood restaurant.

The Seelers have worked on four other projects in the community in addition to the Tagg’s transformation.

“We like the small-town atmosphere here,” Seeler said. “We could have a mini Brockport here.”

The Seelers are grateful to be in the home stretch of the project. Three of the apartments should be available next month. Seeler created a courtyard for the three upper apartments. Tagg’s and the barbershop building used to have roofs that touched. But Seeler left some room between the roofs, allowing for the courtyard up high as well as the entrances to the apartments.

The interior of the Seeler apartments features lots of woodwork and existing light.

Seeler put in many windows to utilize natural light. The apartments give a birds eye view of the Public Square. Seeler has been spending his Saturday mornings giving tours of the apartments and restaurant space to interested community members. He loves their reaction to the apartments.

“Everybody I talk to has the hubbubs about it,” Seeler said. “People are excited.”

Most Holley residents remember the site as a notorious bar and rooming house. Now, Seeler believes the site has a urban apartment feel with a bar and grill that will be a major positive for Holley and Orleans County.

“I’ve tried to use my knowledge from the years and years of building with this project,” Seeler said. “We’ve given it new life.”

Seeler has two more apartments under construction, including this one which will be 1,300 square feet on the second floor. “It has a great view and a personality of its own.”