Annual DMC event highlights potential for change and new conversations
Annual meeting among parking ramps and cleared development site seeks to spur thoughts of potential for continued downtown improvement.
ROCHESTER — Patrick Seeb said the location of Thursday’s annual Destination Medical Center community gathering was intended to introduce the community to an area of opportunity.
“I’ve heard a number of people say, ‘Why this location? It’s really hard to find,’” the executive director of the DMC Economic Development Agency said from the event site near the intersection of First Ave. SE and First Street.
Standing amid three public parking ramps and a site cleared for potential development, he said the location of the annual meeting is selected each year to highlight potential development or projects that could be part of the DMC vision.
“It’s a way of building new conversations,” he said, pointing out past events were held at Peace Plaza, near Discovery Square and along the Zumbro River.
While past sites had plans in development or being discussed, Seeb said that was not the case for Thursday’s gathering, which included booths from a variety of community partners working alongside DMC efforts.
“There is no big announcement about this site next to us, but what we are saying is this is an incredible opportunity for our community to think about this site next to us,” he said.
He said there is a potential to turn a portion of the two blocks of First Street between the Mayo Civic Center and the Galleria At University Square into a more pedestrian friendly part of downtown, especially with the potential development of the former Post Bulletin site and a city parking lot north of the Civic Center, as well as several other are sites.
“That’s the conversation we want to begin tonight,” he said, later pointing to a new mural that seeks to highlight potential for unused space.
Rochester artist Jenna Whiting painted the mural “Sol Flowers” on the north side of the Mayo Civic Center parking ramp, using a design inspired by sun-printed flowers to connect to her hometown.
“Sun prints are rich in history and science, just like our city,” she said.
Seeb said the mural, which received $20,000 in DMC funds intended to support interim activation of potential development sites, was selected from among a variety of incredible applications, showing an interest in bringing new art and design to the city’s core.
At the same time, Clark Otley, DMC EDA board president, used Thursday’s meeting to highlight the work that has already begun.
From the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Building, being built on the corner of Third Street Southwest and Fourth Avenue, to the proton beam facility expansion, the Mayo Clinic surgeon highlighted continued efforts to provide advanced care.
He also pointed to ongoing work to bring new medical collaboration to the city, along with efforts to provide new public space at Peace Plaza and the future Discovery Walk, which is under construction along Second Avenue Southwest, between the Mayo Clinic campus and Soldiers Field.
“I think back to about 2015, when all this started. … What we did was we said we were going to plan our city in a very proactive, thoughtful, purposeful way,” he said. “We were not going to just let it happen. We were going to make it happen in a way that serves our community, our patients and our state in a really beautiful proactive way.”
Members of the state DMC Corp. board said that direction continues.
“Not only are we designing and building the infrastructure necessary for Rochester’s successful growth, we are also designing and building the systems necessary to ensure that how we build the city is just as important as what we build,” said Rochester Mayor Kim Norton, who serves as the DMC board vice chairwoman. “We are committed to ensuring all members of our community participate in the prosperity of the DMC initiative.”
She cited prevailing wage and workforce participation goals for publicly funded projects.
DMCC Chairwoman Pamela Wheelock echoed the commitment to continued growth.
“Rochester continues to leverage the innovation and reputation of its major employer to diversify and grow, and Rochester’s acknowledged for its commitments to racial justice and equity,” she said a week before the DMCC board is slated to review DMC-related budgets for 2023.
She said the ongoing work provides optimism for the work ahead.
“The persistence, resilience and community spirit already in evidence in Rochester bodes well for achieving Destination Medical Center’s bold vision of making Rochester America’s city for health,” she said.