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Developer hopes to hop on trampoline park trend

Nate Stencil, Stencil Homes
Nate Stencil, Stencil Homes

A developer is bouncing back with an estimated $6 million family trampoline and fun center, after Rochester blocked his plans for an apartment complex.

A split Rochester City Council put the brakes on a plan by South Dakota developer Nate Stencil last summer to build a 164-unit apartment complex in an industrial area on the north side of Technology Drive Northwest between Valleyhigh Drive and West Circle Drive. 

The council denied Stencil's request for tax-increment financing, which he considered necessary for the apartment project to move forward.

During the debate, council members and planning commissioners raised the concern that an industrial facility, like a smelter or a factory, could be built in the future on the open land next to the proposed apartments.

In response to those hot-button comments, Stencil moved ahead to buy the adjacent land on the corner of Commercial Drive Northwest and Technology Drive Northwest.

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Now that land is where a 50,000-square-foot family center "with a heavy emphasis on trampoline-based entertainment" is being proposed, said the developer this week.

"I've been working with a family entertainment center operator from out of town for quite a while… and we now have a commitment," said Stencil. "We're finalizing the architectural drawings so we can submit to city and get off to the races on the construction."

He hopes to be able to start construction in April or May to be able to open in late 2018 or early 2019.

Stencil describes the center as featuring "American Ninja Warrior"-type obstacle courses, jousting, dodge ball and other trampoline activities. There will also be a large game arcade. The facility is expected to include about 11,000-square-feet of complimentary retail for the parents to use, while the kids are jumping.

Trampoline centers have grown into a more than $1 billion industry as there popularity has leap-frogged other types of family entertainment.The International Association of Trampoline Parks stated at the end of 2017, that there were than 1,000 trampoline parks worldwide. That's a huge leap from the three parks that existed in 2009.

For Stencil, this is a departure from his usual focus on apartments. He entered the Rochester market about five years ago. Since then, he has built several complexes, including Nue52, Kascade Place,The Pines and the soon-to-open Flats on Fourth at 302 Fourth St. SE.

The fight over his proposed Technology Park Apartments in the industrial area in northwest Rochester is a speed bump he hopes to get past to continue to develop in the Med City.

"I obviously have a little bitterness considering the way it all panned out with the apartments next door," he said on Wednesday. "In the long run, this a great project and we're excited to do it. We just wish we were doing both (the trampoline park and Technology Park Apartments)."

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City Council member Nick Campion, who opposed the location the Technology Park Apartments, says he's open to hearing about this new project.

"I'll listen to this proposal with a fresh perspective. I'm ready to consider it with open eyes and open ears," he said.

Stencil says, for his part, he remains committed to working in Rochester.

"You will win some and you lose some, but you can't walk away after you've spent so much money and time in the community," he said.

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