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Firm selected to lead Chateau re-use

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A consulting firm's commitment to public engagement was the difference maker Tuesday as the city of Rochester's Chateau Theatre Re-Use Task Force decided between the final two firms to lead the restoration and re-use project at the downtown theater.

"Community involvement doesn't have to be 'open the doors and see who shows up,'" said John Mecum, a principal at Minneapolis-based Miller Dunwiddie Architecture .

The public engagement process for re-use of the Chateau Theatre could involve public events, performances and focused meetings with performing arts organizations, said Denita Lemmon, an associate principal at Miller Dunwiddie.

"We specialize in historic properties but we also specialize in a process, and one of the things I excel at is including community engagement," said Lemmon, who will act as project manager.

Members of the Chateau Theatre task force were struck by the public process approach promised by the Miller Dunwiddie representatives, and it led to the task force agreeing to recommend that firm to provide professional consulting services on the project.

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Miller Dunwiddie's base services fee was $147,000, according to the firm's proposal . It also offered $21,000 in optional value-added services, including historical consulting and a pipe organ assessment.

The firm has a 50-year history in historic building preservation, and specific expertise in theater preservation, according to its proposal. It was involved in the restoration of the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Minn., and the restoration of the Victoria Theater in St. Paul.

The Rochester City Council will review the task force's recommendation at a Monday meeting.

The consulting fee is to be paid from Destination Medical Center revenues, including the city's sales tax. The DMC Corp. Board of Directors had previously given the council its consent to select a consultant for the project, according to City Administrator Stevan Kvenvold.

The task force also heard a presentation from St. Paul-based engineering consultant TKDA . While both presentations were comprehensive and met the task force's request, the proposal from Miller Dunwiddie more closely matched the task force's priorities, said task force member and city council member Mark Bilderback.

"What this task force had talked about is how important it is to make the community a part of this," Bilderback said. "I think the first group shared in much more depth how they plan on doing that."

The community's first opportunity to interact with the consultant will be at a Chateau Theatre community event planned by the task force. The event is scheduled for May 26 but other details are still subject to change.

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