Lisa Clarke: Building a community that works for all

March 26, 2019

To say that we have kicked into high gear this year would be an understatement. With nine ribbon-cuttings scheduled for 2019, we at the Destination Medical Center (DMC) office are busily preparing for a milestone year while also setting the table for Rochester’s future.

As we navigate plans, investments and infrastructure and step forward into the exciting evolution of our community, we remain focused on creating a vibrant and sought-after place to live, work, learn and play for generations to come. A place providing a wealth of opportunities to realize dreams. A place where careers grow, businesses thrive, and culture enriches. The dynamic downtown we imagined just a few short years ago is emerging.

This year’s ribbon-cuttings will christen new private developments and revitalized structures in the DMC district, including One Discovery Square, the research and technology center, two hotels — Hilton and Hotel Indigo (a Holiday Inn renovation) — a 630-stall First Avenue parking ramp, a 154-unit apartment complex called Urban on First, and the renovated Wells Fargo Center and beloved historic Chateau Theatre.

Additional projects include the 143-unit Residence at Discovery Square apartments and a newly expanded Ronald McDonald House. Combined, these projects represent more than $300 million in investment in Rochester.

Working closely with city, county, state and private partners, we are tackling traffic congestion, parking solutions, housing availability and affordability, and walkability, to make Rochester livable and environmentally sustainable.

For example, soon we will begin planning for a future bus rapid transit “circulator” that will connect two “transit villages” for the northwest and southeast sides of the city. These “villages” will feature a parking ramp, plus development opportunities for housing, restaurants, other businesses, and parks and playgrounds — ingredients of lively, transit-oriented neighborhoods.

We have reported metrics that investors, developers and public funders use to measure DMC’s success. What do they mean to the people of Rochester and the state of Minnesota? Many things, but if I had to sum them up in one word, it would be opportunity — opportunity spanning many aspects of life:

Jobs. More jobs create more life choices, improve lives and livelihoods and strengthen our community. For instance, if you have been thinking about living downtown, now you can.

One Discovery Square has attracted new employers — some with global reach — in need of filling jobs with people bringing a range of talent and experience. Companies dedicated to medical innovation are clearly the focus; however, DMC is also working to attract innovative start-ups and established businesses representing a cross-section of industry sectors. Future employers will offer a variety of career opportunities.

Housing and lifestyle. The 297 new apartments soon to open in downtown will provide residents with a choice to live near jobs, restaurants and entertainment. As more people move downtown, they will create the built-in market that businesses need to thrive. Housing that meets the needs of residents at various income levels is also critical, and it is our priority.

Health and sustainability. As we attract more jobs, we are preparing to offer residents and visitors a variety of transportation options to walk, bike or use mass transit. These options will provide benefits beyond efficient transportation, including more exercise for better health and reduced carbon emissions for a cleaner environment.

At DMC, we are committed to maintaining the authenticity and charm that have made Rochester special while actively preparing to meet the needs of future generations by building a city that is innovative, sustainable and entrepreneurial. As we build, we remain committed to listening to you, because communication and collaboration form the bedrock of a community that works for all.