Rochester eyes $450,000 purchase for county portion of shared building
Former muffler shop sits in area targeted for future riverfront development.
ROCHESTER — A proposed $450,000 payment for Olmsted County’s share of a former muffler shop could make way for city of Rochester development plans.
The Rochester City Council will be asked Monday to approve the purchase of the county’s share of the former Mr. Muffler site on the northeast corner of Third Avenue Southeast and Fourth Street.
The site, which sits directly east of the city-county Government Center, was jointly purchased by the city and county for $750,000 in 1998.
The nearly half-acre property is estimated to be worth $950,000, and the potential for sole city ownership has been in the works since the City Council approved a small-area plan that would seek to develop the site, along with other city-owned property along the Zumbro River.
A concept approved in July shows the potential for a residential tower on the former Mr. Muffler site and nearby parking lot, which could include commercial space on the first floor. A second tower along Fourth Street was also proposed.
Development details remain uncertain, and a sale of the county’s share of the former muffler shop won’t spur immediate action.
The proposed purchase agreement calls for the county to rent the space for its facilities maintenance team at the cost of $1 for the remainder of 2023.
The city does not use any part of the 5,200-square-foot building, and a report to the council states the city plans to demolish it once the county moves out.
In addition to considering the purchase, the City Council will be asked Monday to approve spending up to $350,000 to advance design concepts for the city property east and west of the Government Center.
The proposed contract with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Gamble Associates would include design and engineering services related to the concept for approximately 5 acres of city land along the Zumbro River.
In July, the City Council approved moving forward with several steps in the effort to develop the land, which is largely populated by parking lots and the Second Street parking ramp.
The proposed work included:
- Finding ways to temporarily activate the current space across the river from the Government Center.
- Working with the Army Corps of Engineers regarding potential modifications to the flood-control system.
- Continuing analysis of the former Red Owl/Time Theater building, which most recently housed Legends Bar and Grill.
- Soliciting interest from potential developers, which will rely on some of the work proposed by Gamble Associates.
The contract for additional design and engineering work, as well as the potential property purchase, is expected to be funded through a portion of $1 million in state Destination Medical Center funds, which were set aside for the riverfront project.
In addition to council approval, the expenses will require approval from the state’s DMC Corp board, which is slated to meet at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 9 at the Mayo Civic Center, 30 Civic Center Drive SE.
The council will review the proposals during its 7 p.m. meeting Monday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE.