Riverwalk102116.jpg

A rendering of The Riverwalk Downtown City Apartments, a project proposed by a private developer and represented by North Rock Real Estate, provided courtesy of North Rock.

A proposed housing project near Rochester's downtown is moving ahead with the support of neighbors and the City Planning and Zoning Commission.

North Rock Real Estate, representing ownership group GZ East Center Street LLC, laid out plans Wednesday for the Riverwalk Downtown City Apartments, a six-story, 149-unit apartment building. The building would replace homes on four parcels on East Center Street, on the east side of the entrance to Mayo Field.

Mike Zirbes, of North Rock, said the developers would not seek any tax-increment financing, tax abatement or Destination Medical Center funding for the project.

"We're proposing to do a very high-end development without any public assistance of any manner," Zirbes said at a planning commission meeting Wednesday night.

The development group held two meetings with the East Side Pioneers Neighborhood Association, the last on Sept. 29, and made changes to the plan to reduce density, move the entrance to an underground parking garage, increase setbacks from neighboring properties and add more landscape improvements.

Neighborhood residents who spoke Wednesday largely favored the project.

Mary Jo Majerus, a neighborhood association board member, said six of seven board members at the last meeting with developers were either in support of the project or did not offer comments.

Renee Hess, who owns one of the properties that would be purchased and replaced as part of the project, said she believed the multifamily housing would be a benefit to the neighborhood.

Another area property owner, Jeff Allman, said the residents who likely would live in the new development would be coming to Rochester and the neighborhood regardless. Allman owns a multifamily property nearby and a another single-family home.

"In my opinion, I would much rather have them in an engineered, designed, multifamily project than continue carving up 90-year-old houses," Allman said.

The commission had several questions but few substantive concerns for the developers. Commission member Wade Goodenberger said he supported moving the project forward with an added criteria that the developers provide a more detailed shadow study at the next stage of project review.

The commission voted 8-0 to recommend approval of the restricted development preliminary plan. The Rochester City Council will review the project next, and if approved, it would move to another round of hearings under a final plan review.

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