Ready for a shift?
With more than three-quarters of a $37.6 million spending plan for Destination Medical Center projects in 2021 funded by dedicated state funds, it marks a big change in how Rochester's revitalization is being paid for.
“The money from the state is really starting to flow,” said James Campbell, the former CEO of Wells Fargo Minnesota who sits on the state’s DMCC board, which unanimously approved the spending plan on Thursday.
Up to now, DMC has been largely city-funded.
“I think it’s really important that we distinguish the role that Rochester has played in the first five years as critical to all of this," Campbell said, "but the strategy was this was always going to attract substantially more state money down the road, and we’re starting to see that.”
He pointed out that the city has funded a majority of the $98 million spent on DMC projects in the first five years, but the state is expected to provide as much as $225 million in the next five-year phase, based on anticipated funding increases as private investment grows.
In 2021, $28.7 million in state funding, along with nearly $3.6 million in DMC sales tax revenue and $5.2 million in county and state DMC transit aid, will fund new and ongoing projects.
More than a third of the funds are expected to be used to develop public spaces.
Of the public realm projects, $7 million will be used to start work on Discovery Walk, which is intended to provide an active corridor between Soldiers Field Park and Mayo Clinic’s Annenberg Plaza.
Another $6 million will be used to continue work on the Heart of the City project, which includes current construction surrounding the east half of Peace Plaza.
Lisa Clarke, executive director of the DMC Economic Development Authority, told the board Thursday that Heart of the City is ahead of schedule, with current work projected to be completed six weeks early, on July 1, 2021.
Additional work on common areas within the district include $1 million for Rochester's Riverfront Reimagined project, which is slated to replace the failed Bloom International Realty project along the Zumbro River between Second and Fourth streets. Funds are also earmarked for sidewalk and Chateau Theatre improvements.
With another nearly $6.9 million dedicated to street and sewer work, one of the newest projects is a potential Sixth Street bridge over the Zumbro River, which would connect to potential development opportunities being discussed in areas surrounding the former Kmart and AMPI sites.
With $1.3 million listed as available to start the project next year, Rochester Deputy Administrator Aaron Parrish said it’s not a guaranteed project at this point.
With options for the area east of the river being considered, he said some sort of change is likely.
“We’re going to have to think about a strong transportation investment in order to make that work,” he said, noting the new access point could benefit the site while also reducing potential traffic in nearby neighborhoods.
The DMC plan also provides $3.1 million for the delayed reconstruction of North Broadway Avenue between Civic Center Drive and the Zumbro River bridge, as well as $2.25 million for sewer work north of Mayo Clinic's Saint Marys campus on 12th and 13th avenues between Second Street Southwest and Second Street Northwest.
The spending plan also projects spending nearly $5.5 million on transit projects next year, with the bulk of the funds -- $5.25 million -- dedicated to work on the planned bus rapid transit service connecting a proposed transit village to Rochester’s downtown core.
Another $3.3 million in the spending plan covers operational expenses, while $7 million is being sent aside to support future private development.
“We are working with developers today around affordable housing opportunities and some other initiatives to support our connectivity of the Gonda Building to Mayo Civic Center,” said Patrick Seeb, DMC EDA’s director of economic development and placemaking.
He said none of the $7 million has been earmarked for specific development projects at this point, but it’s intended to provide some flexibility as projects emerge,
Much of the spending outlined in the plan approved Thursday will require further review and approval from the DMCC board and Rochester City Council as contracts and additional details emerge for projects that haven’t seen final approval. The annual proposal of project spending helps develop budgets for the upcoming year.