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Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

Est. 2014

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Sean Baker Editor

Bryan Lund Reporter

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Plans for riverfront project may be dead in the water

Plans for riverfront project may be dead in the water

The development team behind what promised to be one of the largest commercial projects in Rochester history has not met a city-imposed deadline to update officials on how it plans to move forward.

Council President Randy Staver said late Thursday that the city has not received any formal correspondence this week from Bloom International Realty, the firm that had pitched a $230 million development in downtown Rochester. The city had set a Tuesday deadline to hear back from Bloom, which only recently terminated a deal with the city to purchase land along the riverfront. The company, based in Abu Dhabi, informed the city in December that it was reevaluating the second phase of the project.

Now the project’s future appears to be in serious jeopardy — with city officials prepared to move ahead without the developer. Staver said the council will discuss Monday whether the city should re-open an RFP (request for proposals) process for the city-owned land.

“At this point we may interpret this that Bloom is no longer interested in pursuing the approved project,” Staver told Med City Beat via email.

Whether Bloom comes back to the table still remains to be seen. The company has been meeting with the city for over three years, during which time it has held exclusive negotiating rights to the property.

Council Member Nick Campion told us he remains hopeful that Bloom could come back to the city with an updated proposal, though he noted that removing the second phase from the plans would likely change the city’s perspective on the project. The city had agreed to provide Bloom with nearly $20 million in tax incentives, along with $8 million in land, in exchange for outdoor amenities and public parking spaces. But with Bloom signaling that it may want to reduce the scope of the project, both deals would either need to be renegotiated or reconsidered altogether.

"At this point, not going through with the second phase of the project would really change its impact on the area,” said Campion.

The first phase of the project had called for mostly senior housing units, while the second tower was supposed to include condos and hotel rooms. Construction on phase one had been scheduled to begin this year.

Campion called the situation “disappointing,” adding that there was no indication until recently that Bloom would not be able to move forward with the development as advertised.

Looking ahead, he said the city needs to focus on protecting itself, and that means operating as though the deal with Bloom is no longer happening.

“The city will need to go back to the drawing board and look at how we want to move forward,” said Campion.

A representative for Bloom could not be reached Thursday.

The council is expected to discuss the project during next Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, 3:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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Cover graphic: Rendering of the proposed Bloom project

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