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Our view: Mayo hotel plan is positive investment in region’s future

September 28, 2018

Five years ago, as the Minnesota Legislature was struggling to approve the Destination Medical Center plan for Rochester and Mayo Clinic, there were comments from high-ranking Mayo officials that if the state wasn’t interested, other locales would love to have the opportunity to host a similar opportunity.

There hasn’t been any talk like that since DMC was approved, and last week’s announcement that Mayo will partner with a Singapore-based development firm to build a luxury hotel atop the clinic’s Gonda Building confirms that Mayo Clinic will continue to invest here.

That’s good news. If what Mayo and the Pontiac Land Group announced last week comes to fruition, there will be a new look to downtown Rochester. At the least, the new Gonda/hotel complex will reach 490 feet in the sky, making it the tallest building in the city.

What’s not known about the proposal is how it will affect what surrounds Mayo. Is there room in the marketplace for another luxury hotel? How will a hotel on the Mayo campus affect business at hotels only blocks away? Will those investors who have committed to DMC-related hotel projects feel like someone pulled the rug out from under them?

There are already hints of disagreement, with local developers Javon Bea and Bloom International Realty saying their research disputes the need for another luxury lodging.

Ah, but this particular luxury lodging will be located directly on the Mayo campus. High-end patients will more than likely be willing to pay a premium for such access.

At the same time, though, Mayo officials insist they’re not interested in competing with local hoteliers. “Mayo’s objective is to grow the pie, not change some slices of the pie,” said Jeff Bolton, Mayo’s chief administrative officer and vice president.

“In many ways,” he said, “we have to make a market in Rochester that doesn’t entirely exist today.”

That, of course, is the goal of Destination Medical Center.

Meanwhile, amid all the talk about the hotel, one key element of the project is that it will allow Mayo to add four medical floors to the Gonda Building. The need for the additional space is an indication that Mayo continues to grow.

We regard that as a positive development, not only or Rochester, but for the entire region.

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