Plans call for completing the work that is being done now at Peace Plaza in July, and eyes are already looking to the east.
“Right now, you actually, literally, are stopped by a brick wall,” said Lisa Clarke, executive director of the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency, pointing to the Galleria at University Square. “We believe the experience can flow through that, and we can create a line of sight and experience.”
A direct view from Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building to the city’s Mayo Civic Center was proposed in the original DMC Development Plan adopted in 2015, which was updated this year, and discussions are underway to see how the vision could become a reality.
“We are in active but early conversations,” said Patrick Seeb, DMC EDA director of economic development and placemaking, who will take over Clarke’s role when she retires in January.
Seeb said DMC EDA officials are working with the city of Rochester and property owners of the Galleria and the nearby building that houses the former Michaels Restaurant to determine what options exist for providing a clear view and connection between the buildings.
He said he’s hoping to present a potential agreement to the state DMC Corp. board during its Feb. 3 meeting.
DMCC Board Chairman R.T. Rybak said he likes the idea of offering another potential way to experience downtown Rochester, pointing to efforts that include proposals for Discovery Walk, as well as the Heart of the City, which centers on Peace Plaza.
“We’re beginning to get a whole vocabulary of experiences,” he said.
Board member Pamela Wheelock said she appreciates the effort, which would link Peace Plaza to First Street Southeast, but noted the path to nearby green space in Mayo Park would remain blocked by the city building. She encouraged finding ways to make sure visitors and others can easily connect to the riverfront.
“It seems like that is a hidden gem,” she said.
Seeb said work continues to find ways to connect to the riverfront and activate areas that also include the city-owned land east of the Zumbro River between Second Street Southeast and Fourth Street Southeast and potential private development on the former Kmart and AMPI properties.
Discovery Walk, however, is slated to be the next public realm project to be tackled through the DMC initiative.
The DMCC board approved moving ahead with the planning process Thursday, with the potential to seek construction bids in the spring and start making changes along Second Avenue Southwest in the summer.
Final board approval is expected to be sought at the February meeting.
Chris Schad, director of business development at DMC’s Discovery Square, said the project is expected to connect the Mayo Clinic campus with Soldiers Field Park, but providing a park-like link along Second Avenue.
While traffic will continue to travel the corridor, it will be shifted east to provide added green space on the west side, as well as seating and potential vendor opportunities.
“It’s absolutely wonderful work,” Rybak said of the latest plans. “I just love the detail you’ve looked at to do this.”