Month: May 2022

“The solution to housing in Rochester is in this room and in this community.”

“The solution to housing in Rochester is in this room and in this community.”

These words by DMC Executive Director Patrick Seeb kicked off the 2022 Rochester Housing Summit on Thursday, May 12th at the Mayo Civic Center. The Rochester Housing Summit provided a deep dive into understanding Rochester’s housing needs. There was also a spotlight focused on the opportunities, potential development sites, and the financial tools available to bring more housing to the community.

The summit included experts from the City of Rochester, Olmsted County, Destination Medical Center, and the Coalition for Rochester Area Housing. Wes Johnson, Senior Underwriter for the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and Anne Ketz, Director of Real Estate Development and Asset Management for Urban Homeworks were also on hand to discuss the financial tools and innovative housing approaches that are available across the state.

One of the keynote presenters was Johnny Opara, President, and CEO of JO Companies, LLC, a Black-owned, mission-driven real estate development company that specializes in developing affordable multifamily housing, workforce housing, and selling residential and commercial real estate. When asked about the key ingredients in creating equitable housing, Opara said, “Engage the community, be fair, listen first and foremost. I think you have a really strong chance for projects to move forward.”

“I would like to thank all of our sponsors, our partners and panelists, that helped put together this amazing day,” said DMC Director of Housing and Sustainability Kevin Bright. We are very appreciative. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

You can watch the 2022 Rochester Housing Summit on DMC’s YouTube channel. Click on this link for access to the materials presented at the summit.

Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Common Bond


Noble Development

DMC Launches $3 Million Main Street Grant Program

May 19, 2022 – ROCHESTER, MINN. – The City of Rochester and Destination Medical Center (DMC) Economic Development Agency are pleased to announce the launch of the $3 million Main Street Grant program. Funding for the grant was awarded on October 14, 2021, from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Main Street Economic Revitalization Program.

“Destination Medical Center has established itself as one of the leading economic development partnerships in the country,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove. “These new investments in Main Street revitalization will create jobs and growth in Rochester – particularly in corridors hit hardest by the pandemic.”

The Main Street Grant program intends to provide no-cost grants for capital improvement projects that result in improvements to any permanent structure or other asset added to a property that adds to its value. The grant awards can cover up to 30% of the project costs with applicants securing other sources of funding to match any funds granted by this program.

Any person or organization planning to invest in eligible capital projects in the DMC district may apply. Businesses and organizations that represent Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE), veteran, disabled, Black, Indigenous, or people of color whose projects will build wealth, create jobs, and stabilize communities in the district are strongly encouraged to apply.

“We are pleased to be launching the Main Street Grant program and we are grateful for the efforts of our community partners in shaping the application process,” said DMC Director of Business Development Chris Schad. “The Main Street Grant program reflects our shared vision of equitable access to financial tools for property owners and small businesses.”

DMC worked with six community co-designers to help guide the design process of the Main Street Grant program. Co-designers are connectors to underrepresented community members with different perspectives – cultural, religious, mobility, mental health, and socio-economic. The community co-designers engaged with their communities to discuss how the application and approval process could be more accessible to under-represented communities.

Co-design was a conscious and intentional effort to make an application process with the people it intends to serve,” said Kevin Bright, DMC’s Director of Housing and Sustainability. “From its use, we learned many challenges the community faces in accessing grant opportunities and we believe provided a set of tools, resources, connections, and support to allow as many as possible to ease their access to these funds. We want to thank our co-designers whose commitment to the project and the community, we think created a much more equitable outcome”.

In addition to the $3 million grant award in October, MN DEED announced a second round of funding on Tuesday, May 17, of which DMC was awarded an additional $988,000. This second round of funding will expand the Main Street Economic Revitalization initiative to provide grants to businesses outside of the DMC district to support economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The City of Rochester and our partners in economic development, particularly DEED, DMC and RAEDI, understand the importance of having healthy, viable neighborhood commercial corridors”, said Deputy City Administrator Cindy Steinhauser. “This funding from the DEED Main Street Economic Revitalization program will provide funding to support equitable, economic recovery for these neighborhoods devastated by the impacts of COVID-19. We want to thank the State of Minnesota and DEED for creating opportunities for cities and for their confidence in investing in Rochester’s recovery.”

The details for the second Main Street Grant program will be announced in the coming months.

DMCC Approves Enhancements for Link Rapid Transit

(Rochester, Minn.) May 18, 2022 – The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board of Directors at a special meeting today passed a resolution to approve three enhancements to the Link Bus Rapid Transit project for submission to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Small Starts Program. The enhancements approved in the resolution are:

  • Realignment and extension of east terminus with a new station on 6th St. SE, west of 3rd Ave. SE.
  • Enhanced station user experience focused on weather protection and sustainable design materials with direct access to pedestrian subways.
  • Expanding the project definition in the application to the FTA Small Starts Program to include infrastructure improvements, including design and construction of a public plaza area, a portion (1,400 feet) of the roadway, municipal utilities along this roadway, and public parking at the West Transit Village, extension of 6th Street SE, and bus maintenance improvements at the Public Works Transit Operations Center.

The reason for these enhancements is to improve connections between people, neighborhoods, employment, parks, shopping, and dining along the Link route. The approved enhancements will extend the estimated completion date of the project to the spring of 2026. The resolution will next move to the Rochester City Council for approval.

The DMCC also approved a resolution to for additional capital investments for the Chateau Theatre. These funds will provide for the installing, furnishing, and equipping of the Chateau Theatre as a multipurpose performing arts center and driver of DMC development district economic activity and revitalization.

The improvements will include:

  • Audience furnishings
  • Lighting, projection, and audio/public address equipment
  • Stage, pipe and drape, and truss items

“This is an opportunity to see what works really well and how it connects to the Heart of the City,” said board member Brooke Carlson. “It gives us at the city time to figure out a long-term strategy for the theatre.”

The meeting also marked the end of board member R.T. Rybak’s term as chair. During the meeting, Pam Wheelock was voted in as the new chair of the DMCC Board of Directors. “I am honored to pass the gavel to Pam Wheelock,” said former chair R.T. Rybak. Pam has tremendous experience working in economic development and with cities.”

Newly elected Chair Pam Wheelock stated, “I am delighted that R.T. [Rybak] will continue his service on the board. I am also pleased that Kim [Norton] will continue to serve as vice chair. I look forward to their sustained support as we move forward.” Mark Thein was elected Treasurer of the board. Chair Wheelock appointed Paul Williams as Secretary and Dale Martinson, City of Rochester Director of Finance and Information Technology, will continue as Vice Treasurer.

The next DMCC Board Meeting is scheduled for September 22, 2022, at 9:30 a.m.

Downtown Sidewalk Experience Enhancement Project to Kick Off

May 16, 2022 – ROCHESTER, MINN. – The City of Rochester and Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency are announcing the beginning of the Downtown Sidewalk Experience Enhancement project on Monday, May 16th. The purpose of the project is to replace the deteriorated brick inlay with an exposed aggregate pattern similar to other areas in downtown.

The new sidewalk will eliminate the tripping hazards caused by the brick inlay popping out. Pedestrian ramps will also be improved in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines. As a result of these improvements, the overall downtown pedestrian experience will be enhanced.

“It is great to see this project take its next steps after continuous input from the community requesting these upgrades,” shared City of Rochester Project Manager Jaymi Wilson. “On top of safety improvements, the Downtown Sidewalk Enhancement Project will bring a new level of visual appeal to our Downtown area.”

An important part of the project will be the implementation of Business Forward strategies that were pioneered during the Heart of the City Phase I project. Business Forward seeks to minimize the impact of construction on businesses and pedestrians in the area. Some of the tools implemented include strategic phasing of the project, maintaining access to businesses, and the placement of public art to beautify the space.

“Adding art to the otherwise mundane concrete barriers is a creative way to add vibrancy to an important pedestrian space,” said Founding Director of Threshold Arts Naura Anderson. “This collaboration with the City and DMC helps Threshold Arts fulfill our mission to support local artists financially while connecting the community with their work in nontraditional ways. Our hope is that these murals will bring more folks downtown, and that they will support neighboring businesses, while they are in the area.”

The first phase of the project will begin on the southwest corner of Broadway Avenue and 4 Street SW and will move up the west side of Broadway to 3 Street SW. As a result, southbound traffic on Broadway Avenue will be reduced to one lane in the project area. Upon completion of this phase, the project will move over to the east side of Broadway. The total project scope includes sidewalks along Broadway Avenue from 2 Street North to 4 Street South as well as sidewalks along Historic 3rd Street SW and 1 Avenue SW. For more information on the Downtown Sidewalk Experience Enhancement, please visit the project webpage.

Riverfront Walking Tour + Ice Cream Social

May 9, 2022 – ROCHESTER, MINN. – The City of Rochester and Destination Medical Center (DMC) are inviting the community to a Walking Tour and Ice Cream Social on Saturday, May 14 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. The tour will begin at the City/County Parking Lot at 401 4 St SE and will conclude near the former Legends site on the west side of the river. 


Self-guided tours can be taken at any time to gain an understanding of the sites at the various learning stations. Three guided tours are scheduled for 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30. The tour is designed to carry participants to both sites included in the Riverfront Small Area Plan to see how these central waterfront properties can be developed into a people-centric place that leverages downtown Rochester’s unique assets and helps to reestablish our community’s relationship with the Zumbro River. This is a family-friendly activity.  


“The goal of the Ice Cream Social Walking Tour is to invite everyone to these spaces and help them to realize the potential of each space beyond surface parking,” said Project Manager Jaymi Wilson. “The tour will give everyone another opportunity to share their thoughts on what the future of these sites could be.” 


The Walking Tour and Ice Cream Social are the latest in a series of community engagement tools guiding the Riverfront Small Area Plan to develop a market-supported vision for the downtown waterfront to link together several civic, cultural, and government assets to the heart of downtown Rochester. The process has included a public comment period, involved community co-designers, as well as a five-part virtual ‘Riverfront Talks’ series. 


Find out more about the Riverfront Small Area Plan at the project website. 

Commemoration of Peace Plaza

May 4, 2022 – ROCHESTER, MINN. – Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency and the City of Rochester would like to invite everyone to a Commemoration of Peace Plaza on Thursday, May 18th at 1:30 p.m. with remarks from DMC Executive Director Patrick Seeb and Rochester Mayor Kim Norton. The Commemoration will acknowledge the history of this space and look to the future possibilities for our downtown and the Peace Plaza.

The Commemoration of Peace Plaza will be followed by a community-hosted celebration from 2:00 – 6:00 pm. “Partnerships have been an important piece of the Heart of the City project, so we are making partnerships a focal point of the event,” said Jamie Rothe, DMC’s Director of Community Engagement. “We want to highlight the multiple ways in which the Plaza was designed to be used by partnering with local organizations and community members.”

Activities are planned throughout the afternoon to showcase the new space:

  • The Rochester Art Center will engage community members with public art in public spaces through the act of “en plein air” art making, as well as inviting attendees and passersby to create alongside experienced artists in mobile, pop-up sketching exercises.
  • The Rochester Public Library will provide an opportunity to celebrate the art of words represented in the Peace Plaza inspired by the work of Ann Hamilton and Gwen Westerman.
  • Local poet Danny Solis and other local artists will lead improvisational and interactive spoken word activities to aid people in feeling at home in the transformed Peace Plaza.
  • Four, one-hour, family-friendly music performances by John Sievers and other musicians displaying Rochester’s diverse local music scene.
  • Mindfulness Walks and Yoga Experiences with Maria Serbus from Grounded Evolution and Radiant SoL Yoga Studio to encourage participants and attendees to pause and take a mindful moment and to appreciate the world around them in this hustle and bustle world.
  • A Sustainability Walk with the design team to learn about the design innovations incorporated into the project.
  • A Celebration of Women in Construction. It took the hands of many to complete the first public realm project supported by Destination Medical Center. From design to the hand laying of thousands of granite pavers, this project was touched by many, including incredibly talented women. Meet the women who worked on this project and join as we celebrate all women that participated in Heart of the City. Hosted by NAWIC, City of Rochester, and DMC.

The first phase of Destination Medical Center’s Heart of the City public realm project is a renovation of Peace Plaza and surrounding areas. The new design creates active, engaging experiences for residents, visitors, and patients in the heart of downtown Rochester. The updates provide enhanced safety measures, including curbless streets, and provide greater accessibility for people of all abilities. Movable seating options will allow for a variety of public programming. The addition of more trees as well as interactive art displays and water features will create a family-friendly space to gather in the downtown area.

For more information on the Commemoration of Peace Plaza and these activities, please visit the event page on the DMC website.