Proposed contract parking at the former Kmart lot remains under consideration as developers, city officials and neighbors met this week to ponder the future and build trust.

"I think we’ve gained a lot of ground," said Mike Mattingly, the legal representative for Camegaran LLC, which owns the property.

Caitlin Doran, president of the Slatterly Park Neighborhood Association Board, said she saw opportunity in sitting down with developers after January’s public hearing ended in a standoff of sorts.

"While we might not see eye to eye on everything, we thought we could work together," she said of the desire to help create a plan for future potential development.

Rochester City Council Member Mark Bilderback said progress has been made, but work to build trust remains following the two meetings, which have involved Mayo Clinic representatives.

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"They are going to continue to meet," he said, saying the engagement process is moving forward with positive results.

Kelly Dunagan of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association said participation by Patrick Regan of Camegaran has helped build some trust. She said he’s demonstrated that he’s been looking at the neighborhood and can identify specific concerns.

"I think he will be someone we can work with," she said, citing her key concerns revolve around the potential for overflow parking in neighborhood streets and the possibility of added traffic on First Avenue Southeast, if it’s allowed to become a shortcut to the former Kmart property.

The ongoing discussions have been split between the parking proposal and the potential for future uses, according to participants who attended Monday’s invite-only meeting.

The meetings started after a proposed three-way agreement involving Camegaran, Mayo Clinic and the city failed to receive City Council approval last month.

The proposed lease agreement is required to move ahead with Camegaran’s plan to lease up to 1,357 parking spaces to Mayo Clinic for use by Saint Marys Hospital employees.

In recent weeks, versions of the document have reportedly been passing between the involved parties with tweaks made to address council members’ and neighbors’ concerns.

An updated version is expected to be reviewed by the council during its next meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 19. But Council Member Mark Bilderback said approval isn’t certain.

"I don’t know if anything is a for-sure deal," he said.

Doran said early revisions appear to show promise. Among them is a clause that could prompt changes at 5, 7.5 or 10 years, if development opportunities arise.

Erin Sexton, community relations director for Mayo Clinic, said the expected changes to the proposed lease stem from cooperative efforts during the two meetings.

"The discussions have led to an improved proposed lease that offers assurances on the interim use of the site for parking, milestones demonstrating progress toward future development, and a commitment to a community-engaged approach to the development process," she said.

Mattingly said some changes continue to be made, but he expects a final draft could be ready today.

A copy of the latest version is expected to be posted with the Feb. 19 meeting agenda this week.

Mattingly said the agreement will retain a call for the creation of a small-area plan to help guide future development in the area bordered by South Broadway Avenue and the Zumbro River on the west, Fourth Street Southeast at the north, Third Avenue Southeast at the west and Ninth Street or 9½ Street to the south.

Small-area plans are typically prepared at city expense in an effort to identify potential uses and a vision for a specific property or area of the city, but the proposal calls for broader engagement, requiring Camegaran and Mayo Clinic to provide a combined $30,000 to fund the proposed planning effort, with the city committing an additional $30,000.

Bilderback, who voted against the agreement in January in response to neighborhood opposition, said the lease agreement likely provides the best avenue for moving forward in the planning process.

"I think the future would be up in the air if this doesn’t pass," he said.

Dunagan and Doran said concerns and opposition are likely to linger in the neighborhoods bordering the parking lot.

"There are a lot of people in the neighborhood who just don’t want a parking lot there," Dunagan said.

Doran said she hopes continued discussions, along with changes aimed at creating better uses for the site, will help build trust.

"The neighborhood getting a seat at the table is a good thing," she said, adding that cooperation is better than the standoff that appeared to emerge in January.

The RochesterCity Council held a public hearing on the parking proposal for the former Kmart property in January.

As a result, additional public testimony on the issue won’t be part of the meeting planned for 7 p.m. Feb. 19 in council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. 

However, the council is accepting comments by email at communitydevelopment@rochestermn.gov.