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'Pocket neighborhood' concept gets a thumbs up from the Rochester City Council

'Pocket neighborhood' concept gets a thumbs up from the Rochester City Council

A proposal for a “pocket neighborhood” near St. Marys Hospital received preliminary approval from the Rochester City Council on Monday.

“These are the kind of things that people need to see — new designs, new ideas,” said Council Member Mark Bilderback. “And that may spur some other growth, and some more new ideas.”

Plans brought before the council call for converting three adjacent residential lots along the west side of 14th Avenue Southwest into a 15-unit multi-family housing development with a shared courtyard.

The proposed site is located south of the 13-story Berkman development, which is now under construction, and just north of 6th Street Southwest.

What makes the concept unique to Rochester is that it would encourage residents to give up their vehicles in favor of walking and using transit.

The proposal only includes five total parking spaces, all of which would be designated for visitors. Leases would not come with on-site parking.

“I really don’t see [the concept] working anywhere else, to be quite honest with you, because it is highly walkable and close to transportation,” said the applicant’s representative, Logan Tjossem, of Widseth Smith Nolting.

Tjossem added that he believes the concept is in line with future trends that show a shift away from an automobile-dominated culture. He noted that within a one-mile radius, there are 15 restaurants, two supermarkets, and an elementary school. The site is also a stone’s throw away from the proposed Destination Medical Center circulator route.

“This is the future, and it’s actually going to lead us back to when cities were planned for people and not [automobiles],” he said.

The developers of the project, Christine and Michael Lindsey, purchased the property last year with the intentions of maintaining the single-family homes as rental units. However, after reviewing the themes outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan update, they were inspired to think bigger.

Christine Lindsey said the project, to be known as Cottage Grove, will not only create more diversity in the city’s housing market, it will also provide opportunities for residents to live in a more connected and inclusive environment.

“The idea of [pocket neighborhoods] is targeted at increasing communities in small clusters,” she said, adding that common areas — such as the courtyard — can create “ways for neighbors to bump into each other and get to know each other past waving.”

The development will be made up of a pair of two-story buildings. While the proposal did require a zoning change, Lindsey said the town homes are being designed to complement the aesthetic of the neighborhood.

“We are trying to explicitly match the neighborhood style with more traditional architecture,” she said.

Hotel project approved

Also on Monday, the council approved a final development plan for a 110-room extended stay hotel at the corner of 2nd Street Southwest and 6th Avenue Southwest. The six-story structure will also include 88 underground parking spaces. The hotel, according to the developer, North Rock Real Estate, will be branded as a Towneplace Suites by Marriott.

Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.

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