Carlton/Days Inn decision will wait

Many thought that the future of the Carlton/Days Inn building will be decided at the city council meeting on Jan. 4. The expectation was that the council would easily give the go ahead.
Such is not the case, according to Aaron Reeves who acts as staff person for the Heritage Preservation Commission. Instead the Jan. 4 meeting will act on a requested zoning change.
Developers will wait for the HPC decision which may or may not impact what will happen with the building, Reeves said.
The proposed Days Inn/Carlton project comes at a time when the HPC is transitioning, but the key is to what?
Reeves said the HPC is almost becoming a planning agency.
Long-time HPC Chairman Jeff Allman said he will meet with Mayor Ardell Brede to learn his views on what the HPC should do. Allman has been reappointed to the HPC for another three years, he said, but whether he remains as chair will depend on what Brede says.
Allman saw the HPC through a highly contentious time that produced an ordinance.
Now the debate is whether the city council or the HPC makes a final decision on a building.
To help decide the question the HPC will seek a consultant using the RFP (request for proposal) process. Candidate consultants will be interview by the entire board, a common way used often in Rochester to make a choice.
But the end result of the RFP process is to extend the Days Inn/Carlton decision into early spring.
Also involved in the transition process is that four new board members will be appointed in March due to end of term positions. This means time will be needed to bring new members up-to-speed.

Demolition site had a visitor

Something happened on the way to completely demolishing the old CJ’s Bar at the corner of Center and Broadway:

On Wednesday night, the first day of work, a man jumped the perimeter putting him inside taking pictures and generally checking the very dangerous area.

Police were called and checked the entire area for other possible “visitors.”

By start of work Thursday morning the site had new safety protections in place.

ACA tops list but Mayo folks don’t answer, at least not yet

Fair question but don’t expect an answer:

Dr. John Noseworthy and other leaders in health care met with President-elect Donald Trump this past week.

But what is more important to local folks is how are potential changes in the Affordable Care Act going to impact personal situations and the town’s future?

Sound familiar?

Conversation heard around the city:

1. A couple on the day after Christmas was wandering the darkened subway area under the Mayo Clinic for something to do. They had been in town twice before. They were used to just wandering and window shopping. Sound familiar?

2. Ruining the character of the city was the view of one elderly man, talking about the downtown construction. What is the character? Interestingly the word character has never been used in all consultant presentations.

3. No matter the construction and changes downtown, on weekend residents are still going to concentrate on sports and going to Minneapolis. True. This observation comes from a person who deals with at least 30 members of the public daily.

4. If you dare to speak out, no matter the subject, eventually either directly or indirectly you are told to keep your mouth shut.

Rochester offers to help Byron but no endorsement

The Rochester Public Library reserved an endorsement of the Byron proposal because planning was not far enough along.

At this month’s board meeting, Rochester Director Audrey Betcher said it’s not known yet whether Byron will be a stand alone project or a branch.

Rochester’s Board President Lou Ohly said not enough money would be coming from the county to allow a Byron library to allow operations.

Instead of formal endorsement, the Rochester board said they were willing to talk and help where possible.

Alatus developer goes REALLY BIG

The former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site finally has future.

The Ramsey County Board approved an agreement that’ll transform the old arsenal into the Rice Creek Commons, a development named for a stream that runs through the 427-acre site in Arden Hills.

It’s been more than a decade after the last military ammunition rolled out of the site, but officials say it’s going to fill soon with homes and jobs. Construction is set to begin in a few months.

The site is one of the biggest remaining development opportunities in the Twin Cities, Ramsey County commissioner Blake Huffman said.

“You think about northern Ramsey County and the fact that we can add 3,000 to 4,000 jobs, and 1,500 housing units, and a robust entertainment facility along with $10 million to 15 million a year of property tax revenue, it means the world,” he said.

Alatus developer Bob Lux said Rice Creek Commons represents a one-of-a-kind opportunity to build the equivalent of a small city almost from scratch.

“The typical suburban downtown has been surface parking lots, surrounded by strip retail,” he said. “Our solution was creating a downtown of retail, multi-family, senior housing, a civic component, all on top of a structured parking facility.”

• Earlier: Alatus is development board’s choice for TCAAP site in Arden Hills

The redevelopment agreement has been a long time, and many failed attempts, in the making.

Homes and businesses were proposed for the site, as was a giant regional post office.

The Vikings even struck a deal to build their new stadium there in 2011. None of it panned out — in part because it was a highly polluted Superfund site, contaminated with everything from solvents to PCBs to depleted uranium.

But Ramsey County bought the site from the Army for $30 million and set to work on the cleanup that was giving developers doubts about the site.

There have been some battles along the way, as residents nearby have questioned the planned density of the development and the size of the buildings planned for the site.

Lux said the 10-story-high mid-rise residential buildings give the site the density it needs to work financially, while still allowing the park land and other amenities that will make the site attractive.

Infrastructure construction will start next year, Lux said, and residents may start moving into the new area as soon as 2018.
Stay Informed

THE ABOVE IS THE REPORT FROM MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO.

Listen to cops

** Let’s Listen to Cops—If We Want Real Policing Reform
————————————————————

There’s a troubling gap between what senior police managers and outside reformers want law enforcement to become, and what most ordinary cops see as threatening to their livelihoods and safety, writes TCR West Coast Bureau Chief Joe Domanick. Here are some ways to bridge the gap—and restore trust and transparency. Read more here (http://thecrimereport.org/2016/12/14/lets-listen-to-cops-if-we-want-real-policing-reform/) .

From The Crime Report.