A Message from Lisa Clarke

 Realizing progress and planning for what’s next

One of the rewards for being involved in Rochester’s growth is that I get to see something new – change happening every single day – in real time.

The physical changes to downtown Rochester with new buildings and spaces and renovations are already transforming our community in positive ways, but the true power of Destination Medical Center (DMC) lies in what’s happening around and between these physical structures- the collective work of many.

The Berkman mixed-use apartment building in Rochester nears completion

Rochester media and community partners recently toured The Berkman, a 14-story mixed-use apartment building being developed by Alatus, LLC, a Minneapolis-based real estate development group. The DMC-supported project in the Saint Marys sub-district was approved in 2016 and broke ground in May of 2018.

DMC EDA executive director Lisa Clarke speaks to media and community partners touring The Berkman.

“This is a momentous occasion for DMC and for Rochester,” said Lisa Clarke, DMC Economic Development Agency executive director. “We’re going to add 350 units to this particular area at Saint Marys and that means a lot more people are going to shop in this area. They have access to trails, they have access to public transportation, and they can walk downtown. This is the live-work environment envisioned for downtown Rochester.”

Five Questions with Holly Masek, Rochester Downtown Alliance Executive Director

Holly Masek joined the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) in June of 2019 as the organization’s executive director. The mission of the Rochester Downtown Alliance is to be “a unique, vibrant, urban experience—a central gathering place—for the community that is attractive, inviting, fun, and livable.”

Through a series of special events, activities, and initiatives, the RDA creates energy, excitement, and a unique character to Downtown Rochester, Minnesota, with the belief that a strong core positively impacts the greater city of Rochester.

Five Questions with Joe Ward, Experience Rochester Executive Director

Joe Ward

Joe Ward joined Experience Rochester in August 2019 as the organization’s executive director. Experience Rochester oversees the operations of the Mayo Civic Center and is the official destination marketing organization for the City of Rochester. It’s currently working to synergize the Experience Rochester destination marketing team with the operations team of the Mayo Civic Center to create one cohesive and high performing team.

DMC: What path brought you to your current position with Experience Rochester?

Ward: I’ve been involved in the hospitality, special event and marketing industries for my entire career.  Most recently, I served as the Director of the Greater Saint Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau in Saint Charles, Missouri, where I also oversaw the third-party operations of the Saint Charles Convention Center.  The recent expansion and renovations of the Mayo Civic Center were very attractive as I was looking for a new career challenge.

DMC: What are some of the top priorities for the organization in the coming year?

HOURCAR Service in Rochester adds to transportation options

From a successful bike sharing program to this summer’s pilot launch of Lime Scooters, Rochester is embracing the idea of ridesharing in the community with cars now being added to the mix. A new car-sharing option is set to launch in Rochester on December 9, 2019. This comes after the Rochester City Council approved a new agreement last month with the Saint Paul-based nonprofit car-sharing service HOURCAR.

The service will allow drivers to rent one of five cars on a short-term basis. Those cars will be parked at different locations around downtown Rochester. Drivers, once approved for an HOURCAR membership, will be able to reserve a car online. The driver can borrow a car for anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours and is asked to return the car to the same place where it was originally parked. As demand increases, HOURCAR plans to another five cars to the Rochester fleet over the next three years.

The 2020 Assistive Tech Challenge

April 4, 2020 | Rochester, Minnesota


The Assistive Tech Challenge is a pitch competition presented by Destination Medical Center to facilitate greater independence for individuals with disabilities and the daily challenges they face. The Challenge is also intended to strengthen their ability to live more independently and help reduce the direct support workforce crisis confronting communities in the region and across the United States.

Participants in the Assistive Tech Challenge should develop a product or service related to:

  • Independent living
  • Access to employment
  • Support for care providers
  • Social skill development
  • Improved public infrastructure

Teams in Two Divisions:

Open (community-based teams and students) 

Professional (companies formed with annual revenues not exceeding $200,000)

Teams will address the following questions during a five-minute presentation to an expert panel of judges, followed by three minutes of Q&A:

  • What problem are you solving?
  • How are you solving the problem?
  • Why is your team the one to solve it?
  • What do you need to further develop your idea?

Prizes Awarded:

First Place in each category will receive $5,000. Second Place in each category will receive $2,500.

All first and second place teams will be eligible to participate in the Walleye Tank pitch competition in Minneapolis in May 2020.

Online Application Now Available.



Assistive Tech Challenge Event Details:

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Rochester Civic Theatre

Time to be announced.

Learn more by reading our frequently asked questions.

Additional questions can be sent to [email protected] Please include “AT Challenge” in the subject line.


Special Thanks to:











Opening of Chateau Theatre Marks Another Major DMC Milestone

Chateau TheatreThe reopening of downtown Rochester’s historic Chateau Theatre marks a major milestone for Destination Medical Center (DMC). This moment is not only a new beginning for the historic building, but it’s also the culmination of many years of hard work to bring the theatre back to its original glory.

The City of Rochester’s purchase of the theatre in 2015, utilizing DMC funding, along with a contribution from Mayo Clinic, kicked off a long process involving many key players to get the building ready to reopen. The Chateau Reuse Task Force, comprised of 12 city leaders, arts and history experts and community members got to work right away to plan the theatre’s restoration and long-term reuse. Minneapolis consulting firm Miller Dunwiddie Architecture helped plan the renovations along with the guidance of the Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission to ensure the building retained its historic value. In 2018, an additional $1.1 million in DMC funding went toward renovations to the space.

Historic Chateau Theatre through the years

Photo from the National Register of Historic Places.

Exhibits Development Group (EDG) is preparing to open its first exhibit inside the historic Chateau Theatre in downtown Rochester, Minnesota on November 23, marking a new use for the beloved building. Since the theatre opened nearly 100 years ago, it has taken on many roles.

When the Chateau Theatre originally opened in 1927, the 1,500-seat venue was used for vaudeville performances, live theatre, and film. At one point, it even hosted a 3,500-pound rhino in a production of Tarzan.

The Chateau Theatre in March 2019

The Chateau later transitioned to showing films and did so for many years. It closed in 1983 with a final screening of Star Wars. It sat empty for ten years, until Barnes and Noble purchased the facility. It opened as a bookstore in 1994 and served customers until 2014. The City of Rochester purchased the building in 2015 for $6 million, utilizing Destination Medical Center (DMC) funding, with Mayo Clinic contributing $500,000.