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Dr. Clark Otley of the Mayo Clinic Rochester and vice president of the DMC Economic Development Agency Board was the keynote speaker during the Larkin Hoffman's Regional Real Estate Forum Thursday night October 6, 2016 at the Rochester Art Center in downtown Rochester, Minn.

The developer building Mayo Clinic's Discovery Square project hopes to be "moving dirt" by next fall.

"We have a conceptual timeline in place, and that shows us in the ground by next fall," said Jeremy Jacobs, a development executive at Minneapolis M.A. Mortenson Co. "So, by say Oct. 1, 2017, we would hope to be moving dirt as they say."

He added that the Destination Medical Center project is in the very early stages and there are many factors that could change it.

"We have an aggressive timeline, but we hope to do it," Jacobs said.

He was part of a panel fielding Destination Medical Center questions Thursday night during Larkin Hoffman law firm's annual Regional Real Estate Forum. The panel discussion followed a keynote address by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Clark Otley, vice president of the DMC Economic Development Agency.

Other panel members included developer Peter Gerrard, the CEO of Gerrard Co.; Mitzi Baker, the director of the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Dept. and Lisa Clarke, the executive of the DMC EDA.

Jacobs was a last-minute replacement for Rochester developer Andy Chafoulias, CEO of Titan Development and Investments. Chafoulias was scheduled to be part of the panel. He told organizers that he couldn't make it because he was at a crucial stage of working on "a very exciting project."

Larkin Hoffman, which opened a Rochester office about a year ago, hosts real estate discussions every year. They decided that Mayo Clinic's DMC initiative is the top development project in Minnesota, so they made it the focus of this year's regional real estate discussion.

Mortenson agreed with Larkin Hoffman about DMC. Jacobs told the crowd that about a year ago he joined the prominent firm.

"I was told there is one project that is the most important in the state. Your job is to win it," he said.

In early September, Mayo Clinic announced a partnership with Mortenson to develop the Discovery Square district, one of the six DMC subdistricts. While Mayo Clinic will occupy the core of Discovery Square, the hub for biomedicine, research and technology innovation is expected to house a variety of research firms.

Discovery Square is poised to be a major driver of the $6.5 billion initiative's projected job growth and private spending. It covers six blocks in downtown Rochester. Mayo Clinic owns about 35 percent of the area. It's expected to be completed in 2019.

While Discovery Square is projected to have the potential to include up to 2 million square feet of space, details of the project are dependent on what tenants it attracts. Clarke said Mayo Clinic is talking to many firms and incubators from throughout the world.

"Demand is everything," Jacobs said after the event. "It's hard to be specific."

The first piece is to lock down the Rochester companies and entrepreneurs that will form the backbone of the project with Mayo Clinic, he explained. Then the businesses from elsewhere will be factored in.

Before all of that can happen, Mortenson needs to choose an architect for Discovery Square. Jacobs expects that to happen in the next 60 days.

"At that moment, the dominoes will start to fall pretty quickly," he said.

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Business Reporter

Jeff has worked at newspapers as a reporter, columnist, editor, photographer and copy editor since 1992. He started at the Post Bulletin in 1999. Kiger is the PB's business reporter and writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street."