A public hearing is expected next month to help determine the landmark status of the two Depression-era buildings that most recently housed Legends Bar and Grill.
“We can wait until next month, but we need to make a decision one way or another,” Mark Carlson, vice chairman of Rochester’s Heritage Preservation Commission, said of the combined properties on Fourth Street Southeast, west of the Zumbro River.
While a pair of reports state the side-by-side buildings, which originally housed the Time Theater and a Red Owl grocery store, have historical significance, they also say the overall site lacks integrity required to be deemed a landmark.
At least one commission member said she disagrees with the findings of Minneapolis-based New History.
“I still think there is integrity in the Time Theater,” Barbara Hudson said, adding that she agrees the Red Owl site is likely no longer eligible for landmark status.
She said the reports, which cost the city a combined $7,000, are fine, but the final decision on whether to recommend the site as a landmark is a decision for commissioners, based on their personal viewpoints.
“It’s not a rubber stamp,” Commission Chairwoman Christine Schultze said, agreeing on the standing of the report.
Local historian Kevin Lund, who recommended the two-building site as a city landmark, called the report an “outstanding study,” but also said he believes more work is needed.
He requested added time to follow up with University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, noting he didn’t see the New History report until this week.
“I think there’s some fascinating history that he thinks we need to follow up on,” said Molly Patterson-Lundgren, the city’s heritage preservation and urban design coordinator.
She said that added history and research is unlikely to change her opinion that the site maintains the integrity needed to be considered a landmark.
The New History report notes the loss of key elements in both the 1935 Red Owl building and the 1937 Time Theater.
Whether one or both buildings are determined to be a landmark, Patterson-Lungren said they could remain part of the site as the city creates a small area plan along the riverfront.
The city officials want a community team to create a plan for the site that extends north to include the Second Street parking ramp. The request for proposals calls for considering the potential reuse of the two buildings, along with a way to address other historic significance of the site, which once housed a mill.
Proposals for guiding the riverfront plan are due by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 17 and a recommendation for awarding the contract is expected on Sept. 20, with the project likely to begin in October.
What happened: The Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission discussed the status of the former Legends Bar and Grill building as a potential landmark.
Why does this matter: The site originally housed the Time Theater and a Red Owl grocery store, which were built in the 1930s.
What's next: The commission plans to hold a public hearing on the issue during its August meeting.