Though skylines are often the most recognizable feature of notable American cities, the activity taking place on the ground is where we find the human-to-human connections that make up the true heart of a community. Destination Medical Center – together with community leaders, business owners, engaged citizens, and the City of Rochester – is strategically exploring the best ways to nurture life and activity at street level.
“Discovery Walk” is the public realm that runs along four blocks of 2nd Avenue Southwest (from the Heart of the City at 2nd Street to Soldiers Field Park at 6th Street). The plan is to transform the underused and uninviting two-lane street into a tree-lined, multi-use linear parkway.
Cities across the country are exploring new and improved ways to design the streets and corridors that connect us to the places we live, work, and play. In downtown Rochester, DMC is looking at options to provide practical, safe, and appealing ways for everyone to move between the six sub-districts.
Most recently, designers for DMC have been focusing on the future of a four-block segment of Second Avenue SW. The corridor – which extends south from Heart of the City through Discovery Square and down to Soldiers Field – has been dubbed “Discovery Walk.”
“Connecting existing and future assets of downtown is essential,” says Patrick Seeb, director of economic development and placemaking for the initiative’s Economic Development Agency. “Discovery Walk will be an integral piece of the greater plan for the DMC District.”
Discovery Walk is among several downtown streets to be redesigned as part of the DMC initiative.
With all the activity taking place in the Destination Medical Center (DMC) District, the recent DMC Corporation Board of Directors meeting agenda was a full one and included updates on DMC’s top development priorities, such as Discovery Square and Heart of the City.
At the end of 2016, private investment in the DMC district surpassed $200 million, the threshold required to trigger the release of State dollars to support Rochester’s infrastructure needs. It was reported at the meeting that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) certified the report and has authorized the release of $2.6 million of the state money for local infrastructure improvements by September.
“This is the reason we’ve been doing this for the past several years,” says DMCC board vice-chair R.T. Rybak. “I encourage the staff to take time to celebrate this achievement.”
Discovery Square Developments
One of six DMC sub-districts, Discovery Square will be a live-work environment organized around attracting and retaining the best and brightest to our community. While there is progress taking place in all of six sub-districts, Discovery Square is a board-identified priority for DMC, as are Heart of the City and transportation.
RSP Architects, the Minneapolis-based firm charged with championing public realm design for DMC’s Heart of the City sub-district, received accolades from the DMC Corporation board of directors on February 8 when they presented findings from the first of four phases of the design process. The RSP-led design team includes Coen+Partners, 9.Square, HR&A Advisors, and Kimley-Horn.
The Discover Report was the result of 17 days of interviews, surveys, and pop-ups conducted by the Heart of the City public space design team and the culmination of their first phase of design work. During this process, the design team met with hundreds of people – visitors, patients, and community members alike – recognizing that they must understand the community well because “solutions for Heart of the City need to be authentic to Rochester.”