ramp.jpg (copy)

An artist’s rendering shows how Rochester’s new parking ramp could accommodate 10 floors of housing. The view is looking southwest from the intersection of Center Street and First Avenue.

Three options are in play for the potential to build affordable housing on top of Rochester’s newest parking ramp.

“It gives us something to look at,” Rochester City Administrator Terry Spaeth said after receiving the three proposals Friday afternoon.

The city put out a request in January, seeking proposals to build up to 10 floors of housing on the ramp. At least half the apartments are required to be affordable to households earning 60 percent of the area median income.

Spaeth said the request drew immediate attention, but also saw some skepticism.

“With the idea of building on top of the ramp, you have special construction measures that need to happen,” he said, noting the added requirements come with additional expenses.

A similar request in 2017 sought proposals with the assumption that some expenses could be reduced since the housing construction would immediately follow the ramp construction, as well as construction of the nearby Hilton hotel, allowing for the potential of shared resources.

No proposals were received as a result of that request.

The recent proposals come less than three months after the ramp opened.

Spaeth said the hope is that the developers who submitted the proposals have found a way to build the requested affordable housing.

“Not having the land cost offsets some or hopefully all of the construction costs due to the highrise construction,” he said.

The request allows for a mix of affordable and market-rate housing, which could also help balance costs.

With the ink still wet on the three proposals submitted within hours of Friday’s 2 p.m. deadline, Spaeth said few details are available for release until the documents are reviewed. On the surface, he said they appear to meet the requirements of the request, but deeper study will start next week.

At this point, he only offered that they “look legit” and came from a mix of Rochester and out-of-town developers.

He said an evaluation team has been created to review the proposals, with plans to meet on July 8 to finalize initial review and determine whether interviews are needed prior to making a suggestion to the Rochester City Council.

The goal is to have a project selected in August.

By requiring 50 percent of the proposed 100 apartments be affordable to households earning 60 percent or less of area median income, the project could add 50 or more downtown apartments with rents capped at $1,267 for two-bedroom units.

To qualify for the apartments, household incomes for tenants would likely be limited to approximately $54,000 or below for a family of four, based on federal guidelines.

Under the same conditions, rents on one-bedroom apartments could command as much as $1,056 and still be considered affordable households under the same federal guidelines, which cap annual incomes for single occupants at $39,420 and couples at $45,060.

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Local Government Reporter

Randy is the Post Bulletin's local government reporter, covering the city of Rochester and Olmsted County, as well as Destination Medical Center efforts. He joined the Post Bulletin staff in 2014.