The former Legends Bar and Grill building is not a city landmark, but it’s also not headed to immediate demolition.
The Rochester City Council split 4-2 Monday to deny landmark designation for the building at 11 Fourth St. SE.
“I think we have to be careful not to label everything, or a lot of things, as historic,” council member Molly Dennis said.
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However, two council members who voted with Dennis regarding the historic status of the attached buildings that once housed a Red Owl grocery store and the Time Theatre also said they might be worth saving.
“There does appear to be some value in considering how it could be incorporated into future designs,” said Council President Brooke Carlson, who opposed landmark status, but also voted to maintain the buildings for potential reuse.
The decision also will remove the advertising left behind when Legends vacated the building, as well as the awning on the front of the building, as long as the work can be completed for less than $20,000.
Maintaining the building for six months is expected to cost $18,200 and provide an opportunity for it to be included in discussions of a small-area plan for the 2.5 acres of city-owned property along the west side of the Zumbro River between Second and Fourth streets southeast.
Council member Nick Campion, who joined Dennis in opposing the move to maintain the building, pointed out it was purchased for $950,000 in 2016 with demolition in mind.
While the initial development project failed to move forward, he said the intent should remain as the city looks for new uses for the property, which also includes city-owned parking lots and a public parking ramp.
“There was no misgiving about what the purchase was for,” he said.
Council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick, who was joined by council member Shaun Palmer in seeking to designate the site as a historic landmark, said she sees potential for reuse of the site, regardless of its status.
“Keeping these buildings is key until we finally know what we want to do with them,” Kirkpatrick said, noting it could save the city costs related to demolition.
Local preservation advocate Kevin Lund, who nominated the building as a landmark, encouraged considering such options during the public comment period.
“It is time to give more than lip service to heritage preservation, sustainability, green thinking and community authenticity,” he told the council, suggesting the site could house a youth center rather than being demolished.
The city’s plan for the riverfront site is expected to be completed in June.