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Is the library proposal right for Rochester?

City council will review design concepts and potential tax impacts of proposed public-private partnership that would include a $95 million downtown library.

Library 01 - entry.jpg
A proposal for the Rochester Public Library expansion moves the library to the block formerly occupied by the Post Bulletin with the main entry at Civic Center and East Center Street. The Library would double it's current size. Three other buildings a hotel, senior living complex and condos, would be built up from the library's third floor. (Contributed rendering)

A new downtown Rochester library constructed under a proposed public-private partnership would cost an estimated $95 million.

The result would be a three-story, 150,000-square-foot library on the site of the former Post Bulletin building, a block north of the existing Rochester Public Library.

Anticipated costs for the city could be reduced based on a potential partnership with the property owner and developers, but details of a potential development agreement remain in discussion.

Rochester developer Dan Penz and a group of local investors have been working on the proposal for more than a year, and plans include adding a convention hotel, a 17-story senior living tower and condominium complex to the site. They would be privately owned and operated.

RELATED: Developers set to unveil plan for new library, hotel and more
The Rochester City Council will review design concepts and potential tax levy impacts Monday during its 3:30 p.m. meeting.

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A proposed schedule calls for a potential decision in March, when the council will have four new members.

If approved in March, construction could start in April 2022 following additional design work, with anticipated completion of the library at the end of 2023.

The proposed plan follows years of discussion regarding library space.

In 2016, the Library Board pitched a $55 million expansion project that would have added 80,000 square feet to the existing Second Street Southeast building by adding two additional floors to it.

RELATED: DMC money may be tough lift for library

The effort failed to secure the required funding commitments to move forward.

Analysis of the potential tax impacts to pay for new proposed construction range from a 8.1 percent to 11.9 percent property tax levy increase, depending on the length of a loan and potential interest rate.

Due to the potential increase of tax need and revenue decline amid the COVID-19 pandemic, city staff is suggesting the options be reviewed as part of a future discussion of council priorities, according to information sent to the council Thursday.

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The council will discuss options for future decisions when it meets online at 3:30 p.m. Monday. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and MetroNet channel 80.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Dec. 14 include:

Rochester

• City Council, 3:30 p.m. Monday. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

• Fire Civil Service Commission, 3 p.m. Tuesday. Video of the meeting will be posted online at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas . Information for connecting to the live meeting is available in the agenda at the same site.

• Park Board study session, 4:45 p.m. Tuesday. Dial-in information for listening to the meeting live can be requested by emailing parknrec@rochestermn.gov. Video will be posted online following the meeting.

• Public Utility Board, 4 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting will be livestreamed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD1h89VmL-E

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• Heritage Preservation Commission, 5 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas.he meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas

• Library Board, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Video of the meeting will be posted online at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas the following day.

• Police Policy Oversight Commission, 4 p.m. Thursday, by virtual meeting. Details for connecting to the meeting are expected to be posted at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas .

Olmsted County

• Administrative Committee, 8 a.m. Thursday in the board chambers of the government center. The meeting will be livestreamed at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/

• Physical Development Committee, 8 a.m. Thursday in conference room 2 of the government center. Information for connecting to the meeting is posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/

• Board of County Commissioners, 9 a.m. Thursday in the board chambers of the government center. The county’s property tax hearing is slated to start at 7 p.m. The meeting livestream, along with information for participating, is posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/

• Health, Housing and Human Services committee, 11 a.m. Tuesday. Information for connecting to the meeting is posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/

• Housing and Redevelopment Authority, 1 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the government center. The meeting will be livestreamed at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/

• Environmental Commission, 7:15 p.m. Wednesday via Skype. Information for connecting to the meeting will be posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/

• Soil and Water Conservation District Board, 8 a.m. Thursday. Meeting is being held via Skype, with details posted at http://olmstedcountymn.iqm2.com/

Rochester Public Schools

• School Board, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW. Meeting will livestream at YouTube.com/ISD535 .

Library 02 - overall.jpg
A proposal for the Rochester Public Library expansion moves the library to the block formerly occupied by the Post Bulletin with the main entry at Civic Center and East Center Street. The Library would double it's current size. Three other buildings a hotel, senior living complex and condos, would be built up from the library's third floor. (Contributed rendering)

Library 02 - overall.jpg
A proposal for the Rochester Public Library expansion moves the library to the block formerly occupied by the Post Bulletin with the main entry at Civic Center and East Center Street. The Library would double it's current size. Three other buildings a hotel, senior living complex and condos, would be built up from the library's third floor. (Contributed rendering)

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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