Design for former YMCA site seeks to highlight views of its surroundings

A proposed 220-unit apartment complex would provide a variety of market-rate housing options with an eye toward working with neighboring University of Minnesota Rochester.

Enclave YMCA rendering 1.jpg
A rendering shows conceptual plans for a seven-story apartment complex that would replace the Rochester YMCA building at 709 First Ave. SW.

ROCHESTER — The new apartment complex proposed for the former YMCA site is being designed to take advantage of the surrounding views.

“Residents of this building will have views in almost every direction from terraces on this building,” said Patrick Brama, a developer with Enclave, which plans to purchase the 1-acre site at 709 First Ave. SW.

The company with offices in West Fargo, North Dakota, and St. Louis Park is proposing a seven-story, 220-unit apartment complex at the site.

Brama said some design details continue to be finalized, which has led to a one-unit expansion of the design since the proposed project was made public. Still, he said the basic design highlights the key points of the proposal, which includes three terrace areas that will be accessible to the building’s residents.

Two third-floor terraces — one facing Soldiers Field Park and another facing the Zumbro River — will be created by the serpentine shape of the building’s top five floors. The floors will sit on a two-story structure that will be dominated by enclosed parking, as well as 15 specialty units that will open directly onto the grounds.


A third, smaller terrace will be located on the building’s seventh floor, offering a view of downtown Rochester.

Enclave YMCA rendering 2.jpg
A conceptual rendering shows planned northwest corner of a seven-story apartment complex at 709 First Ave. SW. The top floor is designed to include a terrace with a view of downtown Rochester.

In addition to the approximately 15,000 square feet of combined terrace space, plans presented during Thursday’s required neighborhood information meeting pointed to a 1,800-square-foot party room, 2,000-square-foot fitness center and a 700-square-foot club room in the building.

Surrounding the building will be new sidewalks, lighting and greenspace, including a planned “campus lawn” plaza that will be developed in coordination with University of Minnesota Rochester, which owns the property north of the YMCA site.

Brama said the proximity to university property that could be developed in the future led Enclave to include 37 studio apartments and 107 one-bedroom units in the plans, which would have lower rents than larger two- and three-bedroom units.

However, with the potential starting cost at $1,300 a month, he pointed out the monthly rates won’t be considered affordable for everyone.

He said Enclave explored options for creating apartment options at a defined affordable rate, but even with the option of tax-increment financing support from the city, the numbers wouldn’t balance.

“We could not get it to work financially,” he said, adding that no city assistance is expected to be tied to the project, which likely would have required reduced rents for some units.

He said the variety of apartments also will provide some options.


“We intentionally have three-bedroom apartments, so three people living together and splitting it three ways will make it more affordable,” he said of an option that could reduce the per-person cost to less than $1,000 a month.

Thursday’s neighborhood meeting opens the path to submitting development plans for city review, and Brama said an application is expected to be filed next week.

Once plans are submitted, a Community Development review will determine whether it can move forward.

The former site of the YMCA on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Until city approval is received, the Twin Cities-based YMCA organization continues to own the 74,799-square-foot complex. If approved, demolition of the facility could occur this summer with construction of the new complex to be completed in 2025.

“It’s 100% contingent on the city’s approval process,” Brama said of the timeline.

While Brama declined to provide specifics about the purchase agreement for the property, Olmsted County estimates the property’s value to be nearly $5.2 million for tax purposes, which is a drop from its estimated $5.9 million value prior to the facility’s closure in early 2022.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or
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