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Riverfront Small Area Plan Consultant selected

PlanScape Impact(s): Housing ; Recreation & Open Space
Public Pinned Report on Riverfront Small Area Plan led by City of Rochester and DMC EDA
Last modified: February 03, 2022




Gambol Associates, a Massachusetts firm, selected for the project to come up with a concrete proposal. 



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Memo to DMCC Board Feb 3, 2022




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Post Bulletin Editorial



With prices rising for just about everything, shoppers want bargains – but in the end, quality often trumps cost.

For example, savvy consumers know that the most expensive food products you’ll ever buy are the ones that gather dust on the shelf for months, then go into the garbage because no one likes them.

We’d argue that the same thing goes for development plans, including the one that the city of Rochester is buying from a Massachusetts-based urban design and planning firm.

On Monday, the city council awarded a $195,000 contract to Gamble Associates to do the initial planning for development of 2.5 acres of city-owned land west of the Zumbro River, between Second and Fourth streets southeast.

The vote was 5-2, and one of the “nay” votes was Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick, who suggested that a local firm might have been the wiser choice. While we are tempted to agree with that view (and we aren’t thrilled about $195,000 going out-ofstate), we will leave the big-picture debate about “shopping local” with taxpayer dollars until another day.

But make no mistake – Rochester should demand a big payoff from this investment.

The current plan calls for a lot of public input in the “visioning” process. Citizens will have multiple opportunities to share their wishes and dreams for the site, as will prospective developers who could build what might be a mix of residential, retail, dining and green space – or publicly owned facilities, such as a new library and/ or a bigger, better parking structure than the aging ramp and surface lot that currently occupy the site. The possibilities are endless, and we expect the wish list to be long.

In the end, however, Rochester doesn’t need another pie-in-the-sky vision that looks great on picture boards but never comes to fruition – such as the $230 million Bloom Waterfront Development project that was slated to occupy the riverfront site but went belly-up in February 2019. This time around, Rochester needs a viable, practical plan that is attractive to both the citizenry and potential developers.

To that end, Rochester might need to adjust its vision for downtown development. While we like the idea of increasing downtown vitality through mixed-use buildings that feature retail stores on the first floor, a quick walk through downtown Rochester provides ample evidence that the city’s attempt to mandate such occupancy isn’t working.

Visions and goals that butt heads with developers’ concerns, market demands and consumer trends will not succeed, so we hope that city leaders, stakeholders and the consulting firm from Massachusetts can work together to come up with a new vision for downtown Rochester, one that will not only bring new life to 2.5 acres but will also be a model for future projects in Minnesota’s fastest-growing city.

If that happens, then the city will have made great use of $195,000.

If not – well, perhaps it’s appropriate that the city council chose Gamble Associates. Rochester is making a big bet, and if the gamble doesn’t pay off, our leaders should be held accountable.







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Related Reports


Other Riverfront Small Area Plan Pinned Reports

March 24, 2022 : Riverfront Small Area Plan Community Engagement Sessions

Rochester’s downtown riverfront is poised for transformation. The Riverfront Small Area Plan project will create a high-level plan for future phased redevelopment.

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Pinned City of Rochester and DMC EDA organization and project reports


Project Report of Downtown Waterfront Southeast: 6th Street Bridge Concept Design : August 17, 2022 : RAISE AWARD AMOUNT: $19,900,000

The City of Rochester has been awarded a $19.9 million dollar United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant.

Project Report of Bus Rapid Transit (2nd Street SW Link) : June 24, 2022 : Mobility Updates change proposals at May 2022 DMC Board Meeting

May 2022; February 2022 and November 2021 Rapid Transit Updates and Upcoming milestones presented to DMCC. 

Project Report of Riverfront Small Area Plan : March 24, 2022 : Riverfront Small Area Plan Community Engagement Sessions

Rochester’s downtown riverfront is poised for transformation. The Riverfront Small Area Plan project will create a high-level plan for future phased redevelopment.

Project Report of Downtown Waterfront Southeast: 6th Street Bridge Concept Design : November 17, 2021 : Downtown Waterfront Southeast: 6 Street Bridge Concept Design Meeting

Neighborhood meeting November 2021

Project Report of South-of-Downtown Waterfront Small Area Plan : May 29, 2021 : South-of-Downtown Waterfront Small Area Plan

  March and May 2021 status slides and recording. 

Project Report of Bus Rapid Transit (2nd Street SW Link) : September 08, 2020 : Rochester City Transit Development Seeking Co-designers

Co-designers will be Rochester residents with strong connections to their communities and local knowledge of their neighborhood and the Rapid Transit Project area. 

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Site Information
  • For the commercial sector, we tend to register startup activities (new companies and new commercial projects) that bring diversification and high-impact opportunities to the area.
  • For the non-profit sector, we wish to shine light on all the organizations and services that otherwise labor under relative obscurity.
  • Our hope is that will encourage cross-sector collaborations and creative solutions.

While there are a number of registries in the community,'s  distinct value is to pilot a database with a data structure and categorizations that answer the questions such as: What organizations or projects/programs in our community that have purported relevance with some of the over-arching focuses put forward by initiatives such as DMC, J2G and Health Improvements?

This database could be used as one of the ways to explore the capacities of the community. If you are someone on an exploratory journey to learn about the greater Rochester community. could be an interesting first step.

The following defines the various project phases:
  1. Available - a product, program or service is in production
  2. Develop - program or application is being developed
  3. Plan - idea is solid, stakeholders are identified, and there is strong commitment to go forward from all parties.
  4. Concept Phase - idea scoped out with enough details to give an early sizing and/or to build a proof of concept
  5. Pre-concept Phase - an early idea or a requirement.
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