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.
“How many people are able to drive around Rochester and the surrounding areas and point to a school, hospital, restaurant, or apartment complex and say they were a part of constructing that?” asks Katie Reinhart, a project coordinator with Kraus-Anderson Construction Company and member of The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).
A growing number of women, as ironworkers, bricklayers, project managers, piledrivers, pipefitters, and laborers, can say they were. From Sunday, March 7 to Saturday, March 13, 2021, their contributions will be celebrated by NAWIC’s national Women in Construction Week. The NAWIC banners you’ll see flying throughout the city all week are testament to Rochester’s support for the mission.
Threshold Arts opened the storefront at 311 Broadway Ave. South to the Rochester Makers Market last December. The shelves there are filled with one-of-a-kind works by artists, designers, and craftspeople like Amarama Art, CHOOCHOO-ca-CHEW, George Pottery, and Patricia Dunn-Walker. Shoppers can find everything from handmade brooms to eye-catching postcards, lushly scented candles to intricate felt sculptures.
Brandon Sampson may be the poster child for the multi-passionate entrepreneur.
By day, he helms a growing prosthetics manufacturing company in Rochester, Minnesota, called Limb Lab. By night, he fronts the band Six Mile Grove.
Sampson shared his story on a recent episode of Destination Medical Center’s Urban Evolution podcast, explaining how both his ventures stem from an accident on his family’s farm. Sampson was just seven years old when he severely injured his hand, an experience that introduced him to both orthopedics and the guitar, prescribed as a form of physical therapy to keep his reconstructed hand limber. His journey led him to pursue a career as a certified prosthetist.
The University of Minnesota unveiled NXT GEN MED, a unique and innovative partnership between the University and Google that will combine world-class technology, research and immersive learning approaches for students pursuing health care careers.
This partnership of global leaders will offer a one-of-a-kind health sciences education program through the University’s Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree offered in Rochester, Minn., reducing almost two years from the traditional four-year degree. The program will leverage cutting-edge technology and learning tools from Google that engage students virtually, and will match students with mentors at the Mayo Clinic.
Rochester, Minnesota is being nationally recognized by a PBS television program for its collaborative efforts to reach a more sustainable future. A crew from This American Land, a conservation newsmagazine series, spent time in Rochester in July 2020 to record the segment, titled “Urban Renewable Energy.”