Construction of Downtown "Parklet" is Underway

June 14, 2019 11:29 PM

(ABC 6) -- In April, downtown business owners lined up at a Rochester City Council meeting to air their thoughts on a parklet outside of Grand Rounds Brewing Company.

Despite concerns from the community, City Council gave the parklet the go-ahead, and now construction is underway.

"I'm not saying there needs to be parking right outside of a business, but if you can't find any parking within a one-block area, two-block area, for a destination ground floor business, these people drive away and they won't come back," said John Kruesel, owner of John Kruesel's Auctioneering on 3rd Street Southwest in downtown Rochester.

Kruesel was at that April City Council meeting, as were dozens of others, to both support and oppose the parklet, which now occupies three parking spots on 3rd Street Southwest outside of Grand Rounds.

Now, two months later, the parklet is almost complete.

"The best name we've heard so far is 'parfe' - it's parklet and cafe combined," said Grand Rounds Brewing Company CEO Tessa Leung.

"People are kind of excited to see this new thing and I think it will be great for the downtown to look at this space that they typically see as a utilitarian space in a different way," said Karli McElroy with the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA).

McElroy said the RDA first became interested in a parklet space last year.

"We were really excited to try to develop this idea in 2018. For us, it wasn't a good fit at the time, but we were able to pass off a lot of that information to Grand Rounds," she said.

Leung said the project, which City Council granted a temporary one year permit for, is a test of sorts.

"How can we use an outdoor space in an urban area, right? To kind of activate it and let people sit outside," Leung said.

The physical part of the parklet is made primarily of wood from ash trees infected with Emerald Ash Borer disease.

"Here's this beautiful product, this wood that's just being thrown, so can we find a way to showcase it," she said.

Leung's vision for the public/private space is to give Rochester a unique outdoors space that will be used year-round.

"We've got some portable fireplaces we're going to put out here, some portable heating; we're Minnesotans, we're used to cold," Leung said.


Alice Keefe

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