A proposal to build a new 150,000-square-foot library building, a convention hotel, a 17-story senior living tower and condominium complex on the former Post Bulletin site will be unveiled next week.
The public-private partnership plan will be presented to the Library Board on Wednesday. Library Director Audrey Betcher and city officials have already viewed it.
Rochester developer Dan Penz and a group of local investors have been working on the proposal for more than a year.
Merl Groteboer, who is working with the group, described the plan as being built on the idea that the library is running out of space and the current site cannot be expanded.
The proposal calls for a new, three-story library complex to cover most of the large block between First Street Southeast and East Center Street that faces Mayo Civic Center. That is one block north of the current library location.
And that’s where the Post Bulletin stood for almost 65 years before the newspaper sold the building and its contents to PB Rochester Investments LLC for $10.5 million in 2019. The buildings have since been demolished to clear the way for development.
The vision for the site is literally built on the library. The library will be integrated into the other three structures that will essentially be built on top of the library.
The six-story hotel, which will primarily serve convention goers, will be built on the southeast corner of the block. It is designed to have a street-level lobby topped by two floors of the library with three floors of hotel rooms above that. A skyway connection to the Civic Center Parking Ramp is proposed. A 201-stall underground parking ramp is proposed to serve the hotel and the condominium complex.
The condos will be located on the southwest corner starting on top of the third floor of the library. A skyway connection to the Civic Center Parking Ramp is also proposed.
The senior living tower will also have a lobby and two floors of library with 14 floors of housing above that. The top portion of the building will house independent living units, the middle will feature assisted living and there will be two floors serving residents who require memory care.
Each of the four buildings will be developed by a separate corporate entity, though ownership may overlap, according to Groteboer.
The library itself will face Mayo Civic Center, set back from Civic Center Drive with 10,000-square-feet of green space in front of it..
“We wanted to set it back and have a park in front to give it some pizazz,” said Groteboer.
The library is designed to fulfill all of the needs that the library board has listed. The proposed building is more than double the size of the current 75,000-square-foot library, built in 1995.
It features a large, glass-covered atrium to allow natural light throughout the building.
Much of the Post Bulletin building was covered in large panels of limestone from Winona. The stone, which was also used on many historic Minnesota sites like the state capitol, was carefully removed and stored, said Groteboer. The hope is to incorporate the stone into the library.
While the library is at the center of the development proposal, the design allows for the plan to move forward, even if the Library Board and the Rochester City Council decide not to build a new library there, he added.