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DMC guidelines to shape city

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Rochester is entering the first phase of Destination Medical Center implementation, and to guide the building and development to come, the Rochester City Council plans to use design guidelines.

On Wednesday, the council will consider a proposal from the University of Minnesota Metropolitan Design Center to produce the DMC design guidelines.

The DMC development plan approved by the city council and the DMC Corp. Board over the summer calls for design guidelines within the boundaries of the development plan.

"The DMC development plan does have provisions related to design guidelines. Now is the time to address that as we're just starting to get into the project implementation phase," said Terry Spaeth, city redevelopment director.

The Metropolitan Design Center operates under Thomas Fisher, director, four senior research fellows and one research fellow.

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The center, according to its website, "… seeks to help cities rethink the assumptions and rewrite the rules guiding development to create a physical environment that is more sustainable, equitable, livable, and resilient."

Fisher was not available Friday to comment on the center's proposal.

A request for council action, to be reviewed at the council's Wednesday evening meeting, proposes a project budget of $100,000 to fund the creation of design guidelines, to be paid from downtown tax abatement funds.

Spaeth and Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department Director Mitzi Baker have engaged in early conversations with the Metropolitan Design Center and with DMC Economic Development Agency Staff, Spaeth said.

Another thought for the design guidelines would be to create additional standards for the city's incentive and restricted development processes, and to have those amendments incorporated into the city's Zoning Ordinance, Spaeth said.

Designing the downtown is an ongoing process, said city council member Nick Campion.

"We're always kind of going through this evolutionary process about designing downtown and setting up guidelines that are going to help with the future. I look forward to hearing about nay proposal that comes forward," Campion said.

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