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Hotel pitched as landmark

Rochester's downtown Days Inn has been nominated as a city landmark.

The Rochester City Council suggested the former Hotel Carlton, Sixth First Ave. SW, be sent to the Heritage Preservation Commission for consideration as a landmark structure after developers of the Heart of the City North project withdrew applications to demolish and develop the property.

Council Member Nick Campion suggested the status defined in the city's revised heritage preservation ordinance, which aims to protect properties with historic significance.

"The process matters, and how we do things matters here," he said.

The decisions followed a request to move the designation forward and another to slow the process down.


Rochester resident Barry Skolnick, who was appointed to the Heritage Preservation Commission during Monday's council meeting, said the commission already voted to consider the building historic, and a consultant has already deemed the status was appropriate.

"It's already been through the HPC," he said. "It's already been through a consultant. Let's not kick the can backward."

Mark Utz, a Rochester attorney representing the building's owner, asked the council to delay a final hearing on the building. He noted a consultant's report on former development plans has not been seen.

That report, Assistant City Administrator Aaron Reeves said, is only in draft form and won't be completed. He said the building's status will be ruled by the revised ordinance.

A primary difference in the two ordinances is how potential changes are addressed. Under the original ordinance, properties designated as historic required city council approval for changes. The revised ordinance created a landmark status and lists specific requirements for potential changes.

"The definitions are roughly the same," Reeves said of the designations in the two versions. "What they mean are just more detailed in the new ordinance."

The council's recommendation for landmark status will be sent to the Heritage Preservation Commission for review. If the commission approves the designation, a public hearing will be scheduled and the city council will consider the building's final status.

"This moves it forward in the process, and we'll have more information to make a decision on it," Council Member Mark Hickey said.


In other business, the council:

• Approved a preliminary plan for Residence at Discovery Square, a six-story, mixed-use building with 150 residential units being planned for Third Avenue SW, between Fifth and Sixth streets.

• Denied a request to change how the role of the city administrator is defined in the city's home-rule charter. The proposal goes back to the city's Charter Commission for consideration of future action.

• Approved a resolution to encourage state lawmakers to allow cities to retain local control in the face of several pieces of proposed legislation that would mandate changes to some local policies.

• Approved a contract for new park-and-ride lots on the Olmsted County Fairgrounds. Another contract with Bethel Lutheran Church was put on hold to confer with neighbors.

• Approved converting several cab stands to pickup points for rise-share services.

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