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Former Perkins site gets nod for apartment development

Rochester City Council approves preliminary plan for 109-unit apartment building in city's northwest.

Perkins.jpg
The site of the former Perkins restaurant at 432 16th Ave. NW in Rochester is being eyed for potential development of a new apartment complex.
Randy Petersen / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — A plan for a 109-unit apartment building to replace the former Perkins restaurant in Northwest Rochester received approval Monday.

The Rochester City Council voted 6-1 to approve the initial plan for a five-story apartment building after hearing parking concerns from several neighbors.

“This is the wrong plan for this neighborhood,” Fourth Street Northwest resident James Clark told the council, citing concerns with plans to create 83 interior parking spaces for the 109 apartments.

He was joined by his wife and three neighbors, as well as a former neighbor and nearby business owner, in raising concerns about adding housing without designated parking.

“It’s just not safe for anyone to be a pedestrian in that neighborhood,” Fourth Street resident Jennifer Cayteno said, pointing toward traffic conditions on nearby streets,

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Council member Mark Bransford, who represents the neighborhood, said he understands the concerns but sees merit in the project.

"I really do sympathize," he said, adding he plans to work with other council members to address some nearby street parking concerns before anything is constructed.

Council member Molly Dennis cast the sole vote against the project, citing safety concerns about the lack of parking.

“We need housing, but I think we need to do something different with this lot,” she said.

Council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick disagreed, pointing to the site’s proximity to grocery stores, restaurants and workplaces, as well as the ability to provide added housing without the need for new city infrastructure.

“We need to start infilling the spaces we have,” she said of the 1-acre site that includes the former restaurant and a nearby property.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based developer Nate Stencil said the proximity to businesses and workplaces, as well as the city’s transit lines, makes the former restaurant site perfect for development as the city continues to change.

“We feel this project is well in line with what the city will see in this area in the future,” he said, pointing to plans to increase transit options into downtown and the anticipation of a new development code next year.

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When asked about potential rents for the apartments, which are slated to include studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, Stencil said it's too early to say how much will be charged monthly.

The apartment plan, which will require a final review and approval before construction can begin, is based on a future new zoning district that will be available for mixed-use development once the new unified development code is implemented in January.

Stencil pointed out that code would only require 55 parking spaces for a 109-unit apartment complex.

Council member Shaun Palmer agreed there isn’t a need for a parking space for each apartment, since Mayo Clinic and other downtown employees will be able to live there and get to work without personal transportation.

“I think this is a great use for this piece of property,” he said.


What happened: The Rochester City Council approved a preliminary plan for a 109-unit apartment building on the site of the former Perkins restaurant in Northwest Rochester.

Why does this matter: Neighbors are concerned about the lack of parking with 83 spaces planned for the apartment building.

What's next: The developer must submit a final plan for review before construction can begin.


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 rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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