The Rochester City Council signed off on the planned sale of riverfront property to Bloom International Realty.
Council Member Michael Wojcik was the sole voice of opposition during Monday’s council meeting, calling into question the benefit of the sale of city property and the proposal for tax-increment financing for a proposed development along the west side of the Zumbro River between Second and Fourth streets in Southeast Rochester.
“I am really struggling to see where the public gets $26 million of benefit out of this,” he said, acknowledging some benefit is seen in the creation of park-like public space, which will include a water feature and other amenities.
However, he said he wants to see more quantified details regarding the public benefit.
The purchase agreement values the property at $8 million, and the developer is requesting $18 million in financing assistance from the city, which would be spread over several years using increased tax revenue.
The tax-increment financing agreement isn’t expected to be approved until after a final development plan is presented to the council, which is expected on Sept. 16.
Council Member Ed Hruska said he backs Wojcik’s call for staff to quantify the public benefits but also agreed to approve the purchase agreement.
“We have another shot at this down the road,” he said, referring to approval of the final plan and TIF agreement.
The purchase agreement calls for the developer to provide 173 public parking in lieu of the $8 million price.
Wojcik said his objection to the plan stems from whether the planned spaces are enough to justify the sale, noting 435 public spaces will be lost when the city’s Second Street parking lot is demolished and a nearby parking lot is replaced.
Acknowledging the ramp is on its last legs, Wojcik suggested the city would be better off converting the city-owned property into a parking lot. He said it would likely allow the city to create 173 parking spaces and keep the prime real estate.
The rest of the council didn’t agree and voted 5-1 to approve the agreement, with Council Member Nick Campion absent.
With the purchase agreement approved, Assistant City Administrator Terry Spaeth said a development-assistance agreement could be presented to the city council on Oct. 1, which would connect to the TIF agreement and spell out obligations for the city and the developer.
He said if things continue to move forward and the developer meets required contingencies, the sale of the property could be finalized by the end of the year.
In other business, the council:
Approved a development plan and preliminary plat for Stonewood Subdivision, which will include 30 residential lots and two outlots.