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DMC kicks in: Three downtown Rochester projects worth watching

DMC kicks in: Three downtown Rochester projects worth watching

(THE MED CITY BEAT) - The transformation of Rochester is under way.

Two downtown projects — Broadway at Center and the Chateau Theatre — will be reviewed this Thursday by the Destination Medical Center Corporation Board. It will be the first time the board considers projects using the recently adopted DMC development plan.

A third project — an upscale hotel on the Zumbro River — will be discussed at the city council's next full meeting on May 4. The developer, Abu Dhabi-based Bloom International Realty, is asking the council for 180 days of exclusive rights to the property.

Here's a closer look at each of the three projects:

I. Chateau Theatre

This city wants the DMCC board to approve its acquisition of the property and the future funding needed to turn the historic theater into a landmark project in the DMC plan's "Heart of the City" district. 

City leaders first announced their intentions to purchase the 88-year-old building at a news conference last month. The city plans to contribute $5.5 million in public funding toward the purchase, while the Mayo Clinic has agreed to pitch in a gift of $500,000.

Photo: 2012 / Adam Burke / Creative Commons)

The city is also requesting that it's portion of the purchase price be included in its $128 million commitment to the 20-year initiative. Doing so would allow the city to use funds from a 0.25 sales tax increase toward the purchase.

Built in 1927 as a live-performance and movie house, the theater has sat empty since the end of last year when Barnes and Nobles moved out. The future use of the building has yet to be determined.

II. Broadway at Center

Like the Chateau, the DMCC board will be reviewing whether this proposal for a 23-story mixed use building is consistent with the development plan.

Graphic: DMCC Board Packet

The city also wants $14.4 million in expenditures related to the project to be included in its contribution to the DMC initiative. Plans call for the city to build a 450-space parking ramp and a public skyway over Broadway.

The council voted last November to give the developer, Rochester-based Titan Development, about $6.5 million in assistance to the project in the form of tax increment financing

The city anticipates the project will generate $140 million in private investment, making the TIF funding a good long-term investment for residents.

Plans by Titan call for a 264-room Hilton Hotel, about three dozen housing units and commercial space. It would be the biggest project in Rochester since the construction of the Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building.

Additional incentives for the project are still being reviewed by the non-profit DMC Economic Development Agency. The project is estimated to cost somewhere between $110 million and $120 million.

III. Broadway Waterfront

Bloom International Realty is asking the council to give it exclusive negotiating rights for three parcels of city-owned property along the waterfront.

The developer has not released specific plans for the project, known tentatively as Broadway Waterfront. But city officials briefed on the proposal told Kim David of KROC-AM that it could include a high-end hotel, retail space and a residential building.

The land that Bloom wants to build on includes the AFL Labor Temple (also home to Legends) and two city-owned parking facilities. Jeff Kiger of the Post-Bulletin notes the city will acquire the AFL Labor building in January.

The waterfront is one of six districts that make up the DMC development plan. Master Planner Peter Cavaluzzi said the goal is to make the area the "sentimental home" for Rochester residents.

 Graphic: The Waterfront / DMC Development Plan

"Every great city usually has a great waterfront where people go to relax, have meals and entertain guests," Cavaluzzi said in a March interview with the Med City Beat. "But Rochester never really has realized the potential of the Zumbro River."

It's unclear whether the council will approve the initial request. Rochester City Administrator Steve Kvenvold told the P-B that it has approved similar agreements in the past, but they're few and far between.

Bloom recently purchased the Associated Bank building on South Broadway. It plans to renovate the building, and possibly add three additional stories.

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