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Bloom towers get council nod

September 20, 2018

One of two towers planned along the Zumbro River has been scaled down.

Jonathan Golli of Pittsburgh-based AE7 said the decision to drop a floor of parking and reduce the overall height stemmed from taking a closer view of how the building would be seen from South Broadway Avenue.

“Once we started to look at it from this side, we wanted to reduce the mass and have it be a bit complementary to the existing historic businesses,” said the planner contracted to work for Bloom International Realty on the project.

The change scales parking in the two structures from a total of 498 spaces to 460, which Golli said stays within the parameters for the development, which must commit at least 173 spaces for public parking.

The parking will be included in the five-story base structures of each building, and each building will be topped with a narrower tower. The south tower will reach 20 stories, and the north tower will reach 28 stories.

The Rochester City Council unanimously approved Bloom’s final development plan for the site between Second and Fourth streets along the west side of the river.

While several changes were made to the plan, Golli said they were made primarily to address concerns cited in previous plan reviews.

“Most of the character of this development has remained the same,” Golli said, noting public access remains a major driver for the development, which features park-like spaces, as well as ample areas for dining and retail businesses.

However, some concerns continued to linger, especially related to construction plans, which call for work to start in the spring. Construction will start with the southern building.

Work in the second building, which will replace the city’s existing Second Street parking ramp, will start about 18 months later, allowing ramp parking to shift to the new parking spaces in the south building.

As the existing ramp is torn down, Golli noted skyway access connecting Fontaine Tower to the Associated Bank building will be interrupted, which was a concern cited by Rochester resident Barry Skolnick at an earlier meeting.

Golli said Bloom plans to establish an on-demand shuttle service to fill the need during coldest months of the six-month skyway interruption. The shuttle will offer rides between the government center and the Associated Bank building to ensure residents and others maintain access.

In addition to skyway access, neighbors continue to worry about alley access and the impact of construction.

While Michelle Fagan, owner of the neighboring Fagan Studios, said she likes the concept of the buildings — the south tower will provide senior housing and the north tower will offer a mix of hotel and condo space — she also raised concerns.

“I’m concerned it will be difficult to endure the construction as a small business,” she said.

Golli said all concerns couldn’t be addressed Monday, but he cited a willingness to work with neighbors to address issues as they arise during construction.

The council’s approval Monday doesn’t mean the Bloom project is ready to start demolition and other efforts that could disturb neighbors.

City staff is working on final details needed to sell the city-owned land to the developer.

“We’re still continuing to have that conversation,” Assistant City Administrator Aaron Parrish said, noting the sale’s closing is expected by the end of the year.

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