ROCHESTER, Minn. - Destination Medical Center is setting its sights on reshaping the Med City's riverfront.
During a dynamic annual meeting Thursday, local leaders shared their vision for the future of downtown spaces along the Zumbro River. DMC Board Chair R.T. Rybak says while the organization has made great progress in Rochester over the past six years, it's work is only getting started.
"My wife grew up in Rochester. She has all these great memories. Her whole family tells me how great it was to grow up in Rochester. No member of my wife's family has ever told me one single thing about this river. That's going to change."
While specific plans to redevelop the riverfront have yet to be established, Rybak believes the opportunity to make the Zumbro a central part of life in the Med City is undeniable.
"Here in the middle of this incredibly exciting downtown, with some of the most walkable, livable neighborhoods anywhere you can find, through the center of it is this incredible natural amenity that we've allowed to be encased in concrete and separated from us." Rybak continued, "we're sitting on a parking lot right now on that river. I see somebody from Forager Brewery down there. I want to be sitting on a patio with one of your beers overlooking this river and seeing all sorts of housing down here, all sorts of different activity here, on what was once a parking lot."
However, the future of a key property DMC hopes to develop, the Labor Temple Building, is still up in the air, as city leaders weigh whether a rediscovered chapter in its past makes it a historic landmark. DMC Executive Director Patrick Seeb says the public's passion for what's to come at the property is a positive.
"In many ways, It's really about 'what's the best way to tap into the energy and the ideas to get the best outcome?' And I can't say I know what the best outcome is, but I do know that the best will come when we have the right kinds of conversations, and really operate in good faith in terms of decision making," Seeb told KIMT.
Rochester City Council President Brooke Carlson says though everyone won't always agree on a singular vision for the Med City's future, local leaders are committed to crafting a plan alongside community members.
"Undoubtedly, we will have bumps along the way, but knowing that we are working together in good faith will help smooth our journey ahead," Carlson told attendees.
Next week could see another step toward defining the future of Rochester's riverside, with City Council members set to vote on hiring a firm to lead planning efforts within the downtown waterfront area.