The historic Chateau Theatre in downtown Rochester may breathe new life – soon. The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board, at its March 22 meeting, authorized up to $1 million in 2018 capital improvement funds to enhance the beloved theatre by providing necessary building repairs, ensuring code compliance, and initiating renovations.
“This solution will allow activation of the Chateau in the short-term, while long-term planning among public and private partners to create a true destination in Heart of the City continues,” says Lisa Clarke, Destination Medical Center (DMC) Economic Development Agency’s Executive Director.
Community input is and will always be core to the efforts of DMC. This past winter, DMC utilized the vacant Chateau Theatre space for a unique luncheon event during which attendees were invited to share both their memories of the Chateau Theatre and ideas for future use of the space.
They recalled many memories from the Chateau’s days gone by. The theater’s unique décor was the perfect setting to catch up with a friend or enjoy a leisurely cup of joe. Grandparents, parents, and grown children alike read books together in the “castle” and sat on Santa’s lap. Rochester’s own Mayor Ardell Brede took his now-wife of 54 years on their first date to a movie at the theater.
Drawn to Rochester for medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic, Traci Downs and her husband, Hunter, originally thought they’d be in southeast Minnesota for only six weeks.
That was a few years and a business relocation ago.
Now permanent residents, the Downses this summer plan to open one of the first buildings in the state’s largest-ever economic development project. Their renovated Conley-Maass building, a former woolen mill and factory just blocks from the Mayo Clinic, will house, among other things, a restaurant, two tech companies and a “Maker’s Lab” equipped with a 3-D printer.