“My announcement today is that all lights are green when it comes to this important rapid transit bus project for the city of Rochester,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar last Friday at a press conference at the Rochester Government Center.
Senator Klobuchar was joined by Rochester City Council President Brooke Carlson and Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA) Executive Director Patrick Seeb.
She highlighted the project’s potential impact to the city’s fabric of caregiving, as well as the high-level federal interest in it. In May of 2021 it was announced that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) had rated the project as “Medium-High.” Her former presidential debate stage mate, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, included $56 million for the project in his proposed $2.5 billion budget for 2022. These “breadcrumbs,” as she called them Friday, are why the senator sees green lights.
One Discovery Square, Mortenson’s life sciences building which opened in 2019 in the Discovery Square sub-district in downtown Rochester, reached a major milestone this spring: the building is now 100 percent leased. Thermo Fisher Scientific is the latest company to commit to space alongside other tenants, including Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota Rochester, Epic, Philips, Boston Scientific, RION, WuXi Diagnostics, Cytotheryx, Exact Sciences and Café Steam. The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board of Directors at a recent meeting commended the continued momentum in the sub-district.
The first phase of Destination Medical Center’s Heart of the City public realm project includes major infrastructure improvements and renovation of the east side of Peace Plaza and surrounding areas. The new design will create active, engaging experiences for residents, visitors and patients in the heart of downtown Rochester. These updates will provide enhanced safety measures, including curbless streets, and provide greater accessibility for people of all abilities. Here are five things to know about the project as it nears completion:
Four Rochester-based artists, Michelle Palmer, Maggie Panetta, and Beth & John Sievers recently created original art along the 400 block of 2nd Avenue SW (the future Discovery Walk) for the fencing adjacent to the construction site at Two Discovery Square. This was part of a collaboration between Destination Medical Center, Mortenson and Threshold Arts.
The goal of this program is to present art that draws in passersby, creates a connection to the community and generates excitement for the future of Discovery Square, while representing Two Discovery Square’s mission of Embracing the collision of healthcare, hospitality and business at the intersection of Discovery Square – energizing the city through collaboration.
Take an inside look at the newly opened Hyatt House Rochester Mayo Clinic Area with general manager Mike Fox. The hotel is owned by PEG Companies and managed by In-Group Hospitality: A PEG Company. The hotel adds value to the City of Rochester as the first ever Qualified Opportunity Zone project and is a vital part of the Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative to revitalize Downtown and fulfill the strong demand for extended stay accommodations for patients of Mayo Clinic and their families. DMC supported this development with public infrastructure funding.
Planning for the future by creating a connected city
What is Discovery Walk?
Discovery Walk is a four-block linear parkway in downtown Rochester, MN along 2nd Avenue SW that will serve pedestrians as well as vehicle traffic. This multipurpose public space and streetscape is the first of its kind in Rochester. The vision for this project is to create a high amenity landscaped road and utility reconstruction project in the middle of downtown that prioritizes pedestrian experience while also maintaining flexibility for bike and vehicular access, civic events, and supports future development.
A new workforce housing development project will bring affordable living options to downtown Rochester. If all goes as planned, 180 families of modest means will celebrate the December 2022 holiday season in their new homes at the Bryk on Broadway. Perhaps a new college graduate working as a lab technician, or an immigrant family working side jobs while upskilling at RCTC, or a retired couple who want to free themselves of the chores of owning a home will be among its first residents. All will have an easy walk, bike, or bus ride to great job opportunities, incredible parks and trails, a first-class library and community center, and a robust set of retail, dining, and entertainment options.
This project will be constructed by workers earning good salaries. An emphasis has been placed on hiring woman and minority-owned contractors to build on a site that has been vacant for many years. It has been designed with energy conservation in mind, meaning that its occupants will enjoy lower utility costs, while the community will benefit from a smaller carbon footprint than would typically be the case for a building of this size. The Bryk might even host a small grocery store or child care center.
The local development team’s vision inspired the Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) board to enthusiastically authorize financial support for a portion of the public infrastructure necessary to advance the project.
The Bryk exemplifies a more holistic approach to affordable living, considering not only the cost of rent or mortgage but also expenses normally associated with transportation and electric bills. Moreover, building the Bryk will address a need in our community, as evidenced by a recent Rochester Housing Coalition study. According to the study, over the next 20 years there will be a need for more than 3800 housing units priced below market rate.
The addition of Bryk reflects the promise that the Destination Medical Center initiative is more than the transformation of Rochester’s transportation system, public spaces, sewers and streets, medical innovation or tourism. DMC is about all these initiatives, and so much more, including diverse options to live downtown.
In time, the full picture of how DMC is contributing to Rochester’s growth will become even more evident. Laying the Bryk’s foundational bricks will be the next step in filling out that picture.
This is the first of a monthly column by Patrick Seeb, Executive Director, DMC Economic Development Agency.
Rochester, Minnesota’s third-largest city, appears frequently on rankings of the country’s most livable cities. Factors such as civic engagement, affordable housing, a strong regional economy and great education options have helped the community stand out for years.
Now, Rochester is looking to build on that appeal by positioning itself as a great home for the post-pandemic workforce as many employees feel more freedom to choose their home untethered from their work locations.
Mortenson celebrated the ceremonial steel “topping off” of Two Discovery Square, its second building in the Destination Medical Center (DMC) Discovery Square sub-district on Monday, March 1, 2021 with community leaders and the project team. The project is scheduled to open in mid-2022.
Speakers at the ceremony included Mayor Kim Norton, City of Rochester; David Mortenson, Mortenson Chairman; Patrick Seeb, DMC Economic Development Agency executive director; Brent Webb, Mortenson Development Manager; and Dr. Clark Otley, Mayo Clinic Platform Chief Medical Officer.