County reaches deal that will — among other things — preserve the iconic corn water tower
Olmsted County announced Friday afternoon that it has reached an agreement with Seneca Foods to purchase approximately 11 acres of land at the site of the now defunct canning facility.
Included in the purchase agreement is the iconic ear of corn water tower, which had been at risk of being demolished. The county says it plans to work with the City of Rochester to preserve the tower.
The Olmsted County County Board is expected to vote on the $5.6 million deal at its meeting on February 19. The property is adjacent to Graham Park, which is already owned and managed by the county.
The acquisition of the property follows a recent decision by the Destination Medical Center Corporation Board to include Graham Park as the site of a future mobility hub. Plans call for the site to be a focal point for not only transit use, but also affordable housing and commercial development.
The county is also seeking state funding to upgrade some of the site’s public amenities. That plan calls for the construction of a new arena/expo building, along with a permanent site for the farmers market.
“Purchasing this adjacent property compliments both Graham Park and the mobility hub and helps to assure the area can meet essential community needs and development potential,” the county said in a news release.
The county plans to work with Seneca Foods in the coming weeks as the company transitions its operations.
Update: Late Friday, County Commissioner Mark Thein put out a statement critical of the decision to purchase the Seneca site.
…as an Olmsted County Commissioner, I cannot pretend that I believe it is a good idea for Olmsted County to use YOUR TAX DOLLARS to purchase the Seneca Canning Factory site. In fact, this decision has kept me up at night as I've pondered what am I missing. Why are Commissioner Gregg Wright and myself the only two commissioners who oppose spending 10% of our yearly tax levy on 9.13 acres of developable land with no clear public purpose put forward?
Commissioner Thein also questioned whether it makes sense for the county to purchase the site for affordable housing or parking. He said both are primarily city — not county — responsibilities.
Thein estimated it would cost a total of $10 million to redevelop the Seneca property once demolition and other site prep costs were included.
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Cover photo by Erik Giberti