Progress and Change: Successful DMC Projects and Setback

May 12, 2019 11:01 PM

(ABC 6 News) --  According to Mayo Clinic, their hospitals see around 1.3 million patients each year. Since 2013, multiple groups have collaborated to make Rochester a destination for medical treatment at Mayo Clinic.

May is the financial birth month for Destination Medical Center (DMC). Six years ago, Minnesota law-makers officially voted to support DMC. The large proposal passed in just one legislative session.


The state will invest $585 million of public money for $5.6 billion in private investment projects, catered from Olmsted County and the city over a 20-year-period.

“Patients traveling from outside the region had about two people on average that traveled with them, and these people spent even *more time outside of the clinic," Mayo Clinic Chief Administrator Jeff Bolton said.

Bolton said Mayo Clinic found that patients spent about 70% of their time outside hospital walls.

"Patients traveling from outside the region had about two people on average that traveled with them, and these people spent even more time outside of the clinic," Bolton said.

He went on to explain this, combined with more than 30,000 employees increased Mayo's desire to create more things to do in the immediate area.

"Mayo Clinic brought us an idea of updating downtown providing amenities they heard that their patients and staff wanted in their community that weren't there," Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said.

Norton said much of the money for DMC is coming from a pool of already collected tax funds, and used towards projects in six designated DMC districts.

"Just this year we will have 9 openings of projects we found would fill the gaps. We learned through research that we have gaps and we are filling those now," Executive Director Lisa Clarke with the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Authority said.

Well-known successes include the completion of One Discovery Square and the Castle Community renovations and approvals the Chateau Theatre project, with a newly approved group to fill the historic space.

"Sometimes people will say 'why are we focusing on downtown?" Clarke said. "We are creating a stronger core so that the rest of the community can gain strength as well."

However, one district hasn't had as much success filling its void.

"I think the Bloom project was a little bit of a hiccup in the plan, but it was unfortunate," Norton said

The former riverfront developer was planning with the city for more than 3 years to construct dual high rise buildings, with hotel and living space, parking and retail amenities. When Bloom didn't sign the purchase agreement the city received a letter from them, saying they felt blind-sided by a Mayo Clinic announcement.

"We'll be building four floors on top of the Gonda building that will be clinical space and another seven floors that would be a hotel and a restaurant," Bolton said.

Bolton said Mayo Clinic was in communication with the Bloom International Realty about the proposal for a potential premiere hotel on top of the Gonda Building.

"We were under a non-disclosure agreement for a period of time, but a comment, prior to the announcement we did communicate with other hotel owners within the city." Bolton said.

"I think we learned a lot about what to do with developers when they say 'just hold this piece of property for us, one more year, one more year,'" Norton said.

Norton said even though the riverfront space isn't up and running as the city has hoped, she's not concerned.

"The Bloom project may have failed, but now something better may go in there, so I'm just excited and looking forward to what's next," she said.

And despite the struggle to fill that riverfront space for now, Norton's hopeful for what the city as a whole will look like in the years to come.

"We have an opportunity to create what we want for the future and most communities don't have that opportunity, we just need to do it right and that's the challenge, moving ahead," Norton said.

ABC 6 News reached out to Bloom International Realty multiple times for comment and did not hear back.

The city of Rochester said they're in the initial stages of creating a request for qualifications from developers for that riverfront space.


Elise Romas

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