City leaders gather for site visit to Twin Cities

Cities at any stage of development can benefit greatly from sharing ideas with and learning from other communities.

For the second year in a row, more than 40 leaders from organizations in and around Rochester traveled to the Twin Cities for a DMC-organized site visit. This year’s trip focused on topics of transportation and public spaces and included discussions and presentations from key experts in those fields. Attendees included staff from the DMC Economic Development Agency (EDA) staff, the City of Rochester, Mayo Clinic, Coen+Partners, RSP Architects, the University of Minnesota, the Rochester International Airport, and other local organizations.

The group took in several locations during the day-long trip, kicking the visit off in St. Paul at Pedro Park’s Urban Flower Field, a temporary installation of a park project, where they engaged in a discussion with Adam Dysart from Public Art Saint Paul, Tim Griffin with the Saint Paul Riverfront Corp, and Tom Fisher from the University of Minnesota College of Design.

Attendees rode Nice Ride bikes on a Protected Bikeway – a concept being proposed for some of the DMC sub-districts in Rochester – then took strolls through historic Rice Park and Landmark Plaza to compare those spaces with the proposed Heart of the City concepts before moving on the 7th Place, where they toured the newly renovated Palace Theater.

The group traveled on the Light Rail Train and Bus Rapid Transit and listened to a presentation about the potential impact of Autonomous Vehicles on future city design. They then headed to Nicollet Mall and Peavey Plaza to view recent renovations to those popular metro spaces and consider concepts that might be implemented in Heart of the City. The Rochester attendees ended the day at the Walker Art Center’s newly renovated Sculpture Garden and discussed the impact of significant public art installations.

“Visits like this help us shape and inform the community conversation in Rochester,” says Patrick Seeb, director of placemaking and economic development for the DMC Economic Development Agency (EDA). “I think all the attendees recognized the value of the day. We hope to make this an annual tradition.”

Lisa Clarke, executive director of the DMC EDA, agrees with Seeb’s sentiments, adding that “while we have much to learn from other cities, we have a lot to be proud of in Rochester.”