Since the adoption of the DMC Development Plan on April 23, 2015, a number of projects have been approved by the DMCC and the City.
Discovery Walk is a four-block linear parkway along 2nd Avenue SW. It is planned to connect Annenberg Plaza to Soldiers Field Memorial Park and function as an extension of the Heart of the City public realm project. Discovery Walk is designed to feel like a park and to promote health, wellness, and innovation. It will also serve as a catalyst for future private development in Discovery Square. Construction advanced significantly in 2023, including the pedestrian ramp located in the 300 block, pedestrian lighting art, and the snow melt system. Completion is anticipated in spring 2024.
Heart of the City Phase One
The first phase of the project was renovating the east elements of Peace Plaza and surrounding areas. It was unveiled in 2023. The public realm project features universal design elements, sustainability, integrated art and improved infrastructure, and a catenary lighting system. This project has stimulated new and expanded commercial and retail businesses in the area and won the 2023 Award of Excellence in Urban Design from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Following the City-initiated Downtown Waterfront S.E. Small Area Plan study for a 60+ acre area located southeast of the downtown core on the Zumbro River, the City continues to lead the development of this future mixed-use neighborhood. In July 2022, the City adopted the Riverfront Small Area Plan as a preferred plan to guide the transformation of the redevelopment area as a “front door” to the river and gateway into downtown. In August of 2022, the City was awarded a federal RAISE grant in the amount of $19.9 million for the Sixth Street Bridge crossing the Zumbro River. In 2023, the project advanced with site preparation, flood wall work with the Army Corps of Engineers, further design, and interim site activation.
Bryk on Broadway
The Bryk on Broadway, located at 401 Broadway Ave N., opened in 2023 as a mixed-use, mixed-income apartment building with rents at varying levels. Of the 180 workforce housing apartments, 54 units are income-restricted to those at or below 50% of the area median income, 18 units to those at or below 60% of the area median income, and 108 units to those at or below 80% of the area median income.
Soldiers Field Memorial Park
Soldiers Field Memorial Park contains 150 acres of memorials and active recreation space, including 4,000 feet of riverfront. The northern portion lies within the DMC Development District and is featured in the Development Plan as an anchor of the Education and Recreation Subdistrict.
This project also maximizes connections to other key features of the DMC Development District: Discovery Walk will connect the Heart of the City to Soldiers Field and the Sixth Street Bridge will link Soldiers Field to the downtown waterfront area.
The public realm improvements within the district feature an aquatics center, with lap pool, bathhouse, wading pool, and outdoor seating, new basketball courts, a trail through the northeast corner of the park, a nature play area, community shelter, public restrooms, and new public parking. Importantly, this project combines federal, State, City, and DMC funding sources to reinvigorate this public asset. Project improvements are well underway and construction is expected to conclude in 2024.
Progress continued on the approximately three-mile bus rapid transit project known as “LINK.” This project has applied for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Small Starts funding process. In 2022, the City and Mayo Clinic entered a twenty-year operating agreement in which Mayo Clinic will cover the annual local match for operating costs and all riders may use the system without paying fares. In 2023, design work was nearly completed, and state and federal environmental reviews concluded. With the significant progress in project planning and qualifying expenditures, the City certified, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) approved, $9,081,280.13 in City and County transit contributions for 2022, qualifying for the State’s disbursement of $7,500,00 as the annual maximum of state transit aid.
A critical component of the Link experience is the future development of the West Transit Village at the western terminus at Second Street SW. The vision for the West Transit Village extends far beyond parking, with the potential uses of mixed-income housing, retail, and childcare.