High-profile development in Rochester may be in jeopardy

Published 8:27 am Wednesday, January 16, 2019

By Catharine Richert

MPR News/90.1 FM

A high-profile, high-cost development in Rochester, Minnesota, may be on the rocks.

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A $230-million riverfront project backed by Bloom Holding was meant to have two towers, one for senior housing and the other for condos, retail and hotel space.

But Abu-Dhabi-based developer said that over the course of the next few months, it wants to reassess plans for the second tower.

The project has been lauded by local officials as the type of development Rochester aims to attract as part of the Destination Medical Center economic development project.

Destination Medical Center Board Chair R.T. Rybak said that, while he was excited about Bloom’s initial plans for the land, Rochester is in a position to ask a lot of investors who want to develop there.

“We are not desperate by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “We should negotiate tough because we have a great downtown in Rochester and we have a great piece of land.”

Rybak said he would be open to letting other developers submit plans for the property, which is owned by the city.

At its city hall, Deputy City Administrator Aaron Parrish said that the city would be unlikely to support a project with only one building.

“We’re going to need to see a more comprehensive vision for the site before we would be willing to convey the property,” Parrish said.

For several years, Bloom has had exclusive rights to develop the property. Earlier this year, its final plan for two towers was approved by the city and by the board of the Destination Medical Center.

But the project has also drawn controversy. Critics say the $18 million in public help awarded to the project doesn’t match the benefits the project promised to the community.

The developer is taking the next few months to reassess the second tower.