Two Discovery Square

An artist's rendering of the proposed Two Discovery Square, left, with One Discovery Square, right. The view is looking southwest. This image was submitted for review in August, but plans are changing as developers seek to find new parking options. (Contributed image)

The followup to the recently completed One Discovery Square complex could be delayed by Mayo Clinic’s parking woes.

“What we submitted on Aug. 28 assumed we’d be leasing paces from Mayo, and that doesn’t work in their current (parking) deficit situation,” said David Mortenson, chairman of the Twin Cities-based M.A. Mortenson Co,

While One Discovery Square was built by M.A. Mortenson Co. with an agreement calling for Mayo Clinic to lease parking for building tenants, Mortenson said the clinic isn’t able to provide a similar commitment for Discovery Square Two, which is scheduled to be built south of the first phase.

The planned construction will displace an existing parking lot south of One Discovery Square, reducing Mayo Clinic spaces.

“Every building we put up is taking parking offline,” said Jeff Bolton, Mayo Clinic’s chief administrative officer.

Bolton said Mayo Clinic is already planning a 1,000 space parking ramp in a lot west of One Discovery Square, but he said only 500 of those spaces are expected to be used for Mayo employees.

“We are at a significant deficit today, and we’re looking at the short term and the long term in partnering with the city and county,” he said.

Jeff Bolton and David Mortenson

Mayo Clinic Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Bolton, left, and David Mortenson, chairman of the Twin Cities-based M.A. Mortenson Co., stand next to a revised rendering of the proposed Discovery Square Two project Thursday during a presentation to the Destination Medical Center Corp. board. (Randy Petersen /

The clinic recently announced plans to create up to 1,400 parking spaces at the former Kmart site adjacent to Third Street Southeast, and work continues to create a downtown circulator to connect a pair of transit hubs, which are slated to be online by 2025.

Mortenson said he and others with the company have had conversations with city staff in recent weeks, but failed to find long-term parking options needed to attract high-level companies to the proposed building.

“We do not have on single lease commitment, and Mayo has not made a commitment for space in Discovery Square Two either, so we have to fill 100 percent of this building,” Mortenson said.

Assistant City Administrator Aarom Parrish said the city’s downtown parking priority is for hourly parking to accommodate visitors and patients, but he noted there may be ways to work with Mortenson and Mayo Clinic to find solutions.

“There probably isn’t one answer to solving this problem,” he said.

On Thursday, Mortenson unveiled a potential solution to the Destination Medical Center Corp. board.

The proposal would add levels parking to the site planned for Discovery Square Two, which is planned for the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Fifth Street Southwest. The parking area would extend into the western lot designated for a third phase of the Discovery Square project.

In all, it would offer 350 to 425 parking spaces at the added cost of $16 million to $18 million on the nearly $45 million project.

Mortenson said adding parking wouldn’t alter what the company already plans for at the site.

“The same entry still exists; that doesn’t change,” he said. “Parking has no impact on Discovery Walk or the activation on the street level. We go one level down and three levels up. Then, that parking becomes a podium for Discovery Square Two and Discovery Square Three.”

The parking option would require DMCC approval, but Mortenson said a decision isn’t needed right away.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton, who has a seat on the DMCC board, said time is needed to consider the options.

“I’m not ready to make any sort of decision on anything,” she said. “This has completely caught me off guard.”

Olmsted County Board Chairman Jim Bier, who is also on the DMCC board, said he’d like to see work continue for a possible solution that could involve multiple partners.

“Maybe there’s another solution, and maybe Mayo builds a ramp with you that goes over a street and you can get twice as many cars in there,” he said.

Mortenson said the goal is to continue talking with Mayo Clinic, DMC EDA and city officials to see what options exist.

“We’re exploring options and opportunities on how to solve this problem,” Mortenson said.

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