The final steel beam for a multi-million commercial center being “built on faith” was put into place in downtown Rochester on Monday afternoon in front of a small group of local leaders.

Workers signed the final beam and swung it into place to finish framing the Two Discovery Square center at 300 Second Ave. SW being built next to and connected to the original 121,000-square-foot One Discovery Square building. Twin Cities-based M.A. Mortenson Co. is building the new one as it did the original.

Dave Mortenson, who leads the firm, told the small, socially distanced group that this building is part of the Destination Medical Center vision to make Rochester the “center of discovery commercialization and the future of medicine.”

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It’s a vision that inspired Mortenson “to invest $50 million without a single tenant signed up. Not very many developers would make that kind of commitment,” he said.

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While the vision of Destination Medical Center is at the heart of both projects, the situation for the new larger complex is different from the original 89,000-square-foot Discovery Square building, which opened in 2019. Before it was built, tenants, including Mayo Clinic, had committed to occupying space in the building.

Construction crew members secure the final beam at the 'Topping Off' ceremony at Two Discovery Square complex in downtown Rochester on Monday afternoon.
Construction crew members secure the final beam at the 'Topping Off' ceremony at Two Discovery Square complex in downtown Rochester on Monday afternoon.By Jeff Kiger

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton talked said this project is about support the vision of Rochester's future.

“One Discovery Square was a wonderful milestone. We knew what we were getting into then. We had businesses interested in moving in,” said Norton. “Two Discovery Square is really being built on faith… faith about what we are doing in this community.”

Mortenson said companies that work in biomanufacturing and neuromodulation are “very, very interested” in possibly taking space in the building.

The new building is the latest development in DMC's 16-block Discovery Square sub-district described to be a "hub for bio-medicine, research and technology innovation."

The site development also maps out "an approximate future location" for a possible much smaller Three Discovery Square building on a grassy area at the southwest corner of Third Avenue Southwest and Fifth Street Southwest.