In the next two decades, Rochester leaders will face the largest public infrastructure decisions in the city’s history. In tandem with the Destination Medical Center initiative, about $1.8 billion in infrastructure projects are on the city’s near horizon.
Of the estimated $1.8 billion in infrastructure identified in the DMC Development Plan, about $720 million is targeted to create 16,000 new structure parking spaces; $348 million is envisioned to create a downtown transit circulator; and $112 million is planned for other transit, streets and city loop improvements, according to city documents.
The Rochester City Council has approved the membership of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that will assist with public space design for the Heart of the City DMC sub-district at the intersection of First Street SW and First Avenue SW.
Public spaces are as integral to Destination Medical Center plans as the private development that will surround them, and the Rochester City Council is nearly ready to take a step ahead in designing those spaces.
The council at a Monday committee of the whole meeting discussed plans to advertise for public space design services, for the DMC subdistrict Heart of the City. The city would coordinate with the DMC Corp. Board to issue a request for proposals, said Gary Neumann, assistant city administrator.
The city of Rochester has closed on the $6 million purchase of the historic Chateau Theatre.
The theater purchase is considered a Destination Medical Center project, which allows the expense to count toward the city’s $128 million contribution for public infrastructure costs. The Mayo Clinic paid $500,000 of the deal.
Rochester City Council President Randy Staver said it’s still unclear what the building’s long-term use and financial model will be.
Rebecca Peterson reflects fondly on the one-of-a-kind auditorium inside the Chateau Dodge Theatre, wading into childhood memories of stars twinkling overhead as she and her siblings settled in for a Disney triple feature. That was about 40 years ago, when First Street was still open to downtown traffic and the Chateau Theatre was in the regular business of showing movies.
“I remember just sitting there looking up at the stars,” Peterson said. “I probably didn’t get much out of the movie at all.”
“2013 was a huge year for Rochester, thanks in large part to the passing of the Mayo Clinic Destination Medical Center legislation,” reports KTTC-TV in a story posted Jan. 10, 2014.
“It was a project many in the state, including Gov. Mark Dayton, pushed hard to accomplish.
“Thursday, KTTC NewsCenter’s Daniel Wolfe sat down with the Governor to talk about the future of DMC.
“Dayton called the DMC initiative ‘transformative and priceless,’ and said that when we look back 15 years from now at the changes made to Rochester and Mayo Clinic, the project will clearly be one we’re glad we took on.
“The Governor also talked about the impact DMC will have on the way he’s perceived, once his term is complete.
“’I think it’s going to be the most significant legacy of my remaining one year or four years,’ Dayton said. ‘Mayo is so important to all of Minnesota, to our quality of life and the fact that they’re giving us this opportunity to do this enormously important expansion here in Minnesota and Rochester, rather than other places in the world, is just a tremendous opportunity.’
“Dayton went on to say there will no doubt be some kinks in development here and there, but the work to transform Rochester will be well worth it in the end.”
Barbara Porter moved to Rochester 22 years ago, vowing to make it her home. She’s been active in the community ever since. Listen to her thoughts on opportunities to make Rochester even better by getting involved in the Destination Medical Center.
Roger White, M.D., a Mayo Clinic expert in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest intervention, tells NBC Nightly News (Oct. 22, 2013) about the pioneering program that put defibrillators in every police car in Rochester, Minn. The program is saving lives because first responders no longer have to wait for the paramedics to begin life-saving care. “Whoever gets there fast enough is the one who saves the patient,” says Dr. White.
Previously in this blog I described the inherent qualities of urbanity. So if you are trying to reinforce or perhaps create from scratch that essence of being urban–what typifies the essence of a livable city–where should you begin?
I believe that to truly begin to embrace urban is to accept two rudimentary principles. Two vilified, egregious, “dirty” words of urban design. The first, simply stated, is that to achieve a rich urban fabric requires density. Now before you close this webpage or tear up this paper in disgust because I mentioned that dastardly “d” word, stop and think for a second about how population density leads to many other attributes of urban life that are desired. Why do you think a farmer’s market works? Furthermore, density can apply to much more than population (e.g. street widths, tree spacing, etc.) and I would argue that embracing the concept of density can help design the majority of component parts of the city system and produce results that far surpass expectations.
The second principle, and one that may be more difficult to explain, is diversity. A vague and catchall term, diversity ensures that everyone is represented, that one demographic is neither isolated nor compartmentalized, and that everyone has choice. Diversification and integration in all forms serve to achieve the larger goals of urban vitality. What I am not intending is to simply address ethnic diversity, which often is the first thing to come to mind. While that is a part of population diversity, it is far too specific. Rather it means having a Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale concert on the same night as the Americana Showcase. Different strokes, for different folks.
Ultimately, our pursuit of the great city experience that exists in the pages of the Rochester Downtown Master Plan as well as the illustrations found on countless webpages and blogs is not difficult to achieve. What it takes is a fierce determination; a vigilant battle against the outdated planning doctrine of the latter 20th Century and promotion of the settlement style growth patterns that are inherent in cultures all across the globe. It is about making a public place out of empty space. It is about overcoming fear of the word density because it evokes images of slums and high-rises and understanding the word diversity without picturing scary people lurking in the shadows.
We all can do a better job of embracing urban, and if DMC desires to increase the vitality and livability of downtown Rochester, then get ready to drop a whole lot more “d” words in public.
What is it about density that is so scary? Why does diversity connote societal ills? Join the conversation by commenting below.
Adam Ferrari is an architect and the Director of the non-profit Design Rochester. Podcasts of the radio show “Design with a Capital D” can be found on www.thecobbradio.com
The County Land Use Plan Update, the City’s Downtown Master Plan, and the Rochester Olmsted Council of Governments (ROCOG) Long-Range Transportation Plan all relied on forecasts developed by the Planning staff back in 2004. The Planning staff made the assumption that health care employment would maintain the same relative position in comparison with the rest of the nation that it has enjoyed for the past few decades. Because of the demographic changes affecting the country (with the aging of the baby boom, the demand for health care is increasing exponentially), this means that we assumed consistent strong growth in health care employment. Our total employment forecast for 2030 was 143,500 jobs.
Comparing our projections to the data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis for 2010 shows that the recession had a significant impact for most industrial sectors in the County. Most notable was a 37% decline in manufacturing employment since 2000. Fortunately for our economy, this decline was offset by a 32% growth in health care employment, giving Olmsted County a net gain in jobs over the decade of 7%.
In other words, health care employment during the 2000’s maintained its relative edge.
Following the 2010 Census and the release of the State Demographic Center’s revised population forecasts, we have adjusted our employment forecasts. Assuming that manufacturing employment remains stable and adjusting the other sectors for the impact of the recession, our 2030 forecasted total employment without adjusting for the DMC’s internal forecasts would be 139,800 jobs. Adjusting for the DMC forecasts, and applying the local ratios of basic sector to support sector jobs, our total becomes 149,400 jobs. These are roughly consistent in total with our original forecasts, although the health sector is a larger share of the total.
Olmsted County has been through rapid employment growth before. From 1983 to 2003, we grew by 35,000 jobs. That was during a time when the baby boom was entering the labor force, however, and this will be during a time when the baby boom is retiring. This leaves growing employers with a potential labor force shortage. This shortage will have to be made up by increased commuting, transfers from other sectors of the economy, deferred or part time retirement, and increased migration. Our ability to rely on commuting will depend heavily on our ability to invest in safe and energy-efficient infrastructure.
Phil Wheeler, AICP, is the director of the Rochester Olmsted Planning Department and Executive Director of the Rochester Olmsted Council of Governments
What thoughts do you have about growth in Rochester and Olmsted County? Share your thoughts here.