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Hotel developers given chance to address concerns

March 15, 2019

A proposed 109-room hotel in downtown Rochester has received conditional support from the Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission.

While the preliminary proposal reviewed Wednesday fell short of some guidelines in the Destination Medical Center district, commission members voiced a desire to allow flexibility and give the developers a chance to return with improved plans.

“I’m interested in seeing what the developers, when they go back to the drawing board, can come up with,” Tyler Despins said before the commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the preliminary plan for a six-story TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel at the northwest intersection of Second Street and Sixth Avenue Southwest.

The recommendation came with a request that developers address specific concerns regarding the project. Concerns included planned signs for the building, a desire to see landscape changes and exterior materials that have been deemed undesirable in DMC design guidelines.

Jeff Brown Jr. of North Rock Real Estate said the developers are willing to consider changes, but noted some flexibility will be needed to ensure the project can stay within its budget since the developers and property owners do not plan to seek public funds or financing.

While other concerns were raised, the Planning and Zoning Commission didn’t object to the primary issue that required the review: The proposed building is larger than what would typically be approved for the site, which is currently an open lot.

Mark Engel, current planning supervisor of the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department, said the increased size could be considered a valid option based on DMC plans for Second Street Southwest.

“The planning staff feels it is generally consistent with the DMC design guidelines,” he said, noting the planned hotel stays within the six-story limit, even though the overall height exceeds standards by nearly 14 feet, due to an extended first-floor height.

North Rock Real Estate is working with Brooks, Terri and Jeremy Edwards on the proposed development, which would be built roughly midway between the downtown core and Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys campus.

Brown said the group of developers and owners hope to bring an extended-stay option that is more affordable to patients and families who require downtown access.

“This is a more midscale brand,” he said, indicating room prices could be at least $10 per night less than nearby hotels under development.

The next step for the project will be a Rochester City Council review on April 1, which will include a public hearing on the preliminary plan.