Seven years into a 20-year plan, an ambitious effort to transform downtown Rochester has attracted $1.4 billion in new development.
Officials with the Destination Medical Center initiative say they're confident of hitting or surpassing the $5.6 billion goal by the planned end date in 2035.
"I will say here and now that I will be shocked if we don't blow past $5.6 billion," said Patrick Seeb, executive director of the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency.
Rochester has a lot at stake in the plan's success, which looks to transform downtown living, working and recreation facilities as the area hopes to further cement itself as an international medical hub.
A Mayo Clinic-led lobbying effort successfully urged the Minnesota Legislature to offer up $585 million in taxpayer subsidies for the project in 2013. Known by locals as DMC, the program didn't technically start until 2015, though the community already sought investments under the DMC umbrella. State funding wasn't available until the community crossed a $200 million investment threshold in 2016.
Since then, the community receives state aid each year for DMC, while the city of Rochester has spent about $59 million on DMC projects since 2013, with at least another $36 million committed.
To date, DMC says about $180 million in public funds have been spent in the community and another $1.26 billion in private investment. That includes projects such as the ongoing Bryk on Broadway mixed-use workforce housing project and the University of Minnesota Rochester's recent $50 million deal to lease the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel for the next 12 years to provide student housing.
At DMC's annual meeting Thursday night, local officials highlighted projects big and small, from commercial and research hubs in Discovery Square to replacing the sidewalks downtown, making it easier to remove snow.
At the moment, DMC officials are in early talks with developers to help fund public infrastructure for seven housing developments in or near the downtown area, along with five hotel projects and a life science innovation project.
"You put the public infrastructure in, and then the public and private investment follows that," said Pam Wheelock, chair of the Destination Medical Center Corp.
That doesn't count DMC's role in a future waterfront district, where the city of Rochester has $300 million to develop 5.5 acres near the Zumbro River with commercial, residential and recreational space. The Rochester City Council approved the plan in July. Seeb said DMC hasn't yet discussed how much it could contribute.
DMC officials are looking to build on projects that soon will be completed, such as the Discovery Walk pathway along 2nd Ave. SW. to Soldiers Field. A third Discovery Square hub could be in the works in the future, along with pathways connecting Soldiers Field Memorial Park in the southwest part of downtown to Silver Lake Park in the northeast.
"This is a long-term play," Wheelock said. "It's really about how does this reset the path for a community for the next generation or two or three."