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Development has stores, hotel, condos

By Jeffrey Pieters

jpieters@postbulletin.com

The preliminary design for a 16-story high-rise proposed on the Days Inn block in downtown Rochester looks like a study in how to fit some of everything under one roof.

In its 375,000 square feet, the building would include retail space, one or more restaurants, a 170-room hotel, 26 condominiums, four floors of classrooms and medical offices, and even an underground, 81-space parking garage.

The building at West Center Street and First Avenue Northwest, east of Rochester Methodist Hospital, would include a city skyway connection and a link to the Mayo Clinic subway.

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Plans call for green terraces at the third and seventh floors and a leafy streetscape along First Avenue, which would be the building front.

"This is the beginning stage of the plan," said Bill Tointon, the project planner for McGhie & Betts, a Rochester engineering consulting firm. He discussed the plans Monday with the Rochester City Council. "We’re here to get some input, where we should go from here."

Tointon, who represents developer Mark Kramer of New Hampton, Iowa, was directed to keep talking with city staff members, who will determine the project’s eligibility for tax-increment financing public assistance.

The developer wants the city to add one or two levels to the Center Street parking ramp for an additional 140 to 280 spaces.

Project planning will take all of this year and next, Tointon said, and 2010 is a target date for letting bids.

The project would replace the five-story Days Inn hotel, an office building and a parking lot — in essence, all of the block west of the north-south alley. The space measures 265 feet by 130 feet. The project area is in a zone designated Block 37 in the city plan and is east of Methodist Hospital and north of the University of Minnesota’s new campus at the Shops at University Square.

The uses lined up for the building coincide with needs the city targeted in its downtown plan from a few years ago, Tointon said.

The condominiums are being designed to sell for between $220,000 and $500,000, the price level identified in the city study, he said.

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Council member Sandra Means said some of the recent downtown housing projects brought to the council targeted lower-income "work force" tenants. "This is a nice, integrated mix of housing options," she said.

The hotel would no longer be a Days Inn, Tointon said.

The overall building size, including parking, would be about 375,000 square feet. That’s about equal to the combined square footage in Mayo Clinic’s Charlton and Charlton North buildings, officials said.

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