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Cheat sheet: Armory proposals presented to the Rochester City Council

Cheat sheet: Armory proposals presented to the Rochester City Council

Five creative concepts for the future use of the Armory building were presented to the Rochester City Council on Monday.

Each group was given about 15 minutes to make their pitch to the council. While council members did not publicly indicate which of the proposals they favored, one thing was clear: all were genuinely impressed with what they heard.

“All of the proposals were excellent," said Council President Randy Staver. "You have not made our decision any easier.”

Related reading: City to begin soliciting offers for the sale of the historic Armory building and Five groups submit proposals to reuse Rochester's Armory building

The only key point of discussion at Monday's meeting involved the use of the adjacent parking lots. Three of the groups proposed purchasing the lots — valued at a combined $1.5 million — as part of their proposals. However, several council members raised concerns about selling the additional land, suggesting the future value of the lots could greatly exceed the current appraisal.

"I have not seen a proposal yet that justifies the city giving up its interest in the parking lots," said council member Nick Campion. He suggested the groups interested in the lots come back with "some alternatives that don’t involve the city divesting itself from the parking lots.”

(It is unclear how a council decision to revoke the sale of the lots from the RFP would affect each applicant. Following the meeting, council member Michael Wojcik wrote on Twitter that he believes doing so could eliminate some of the proposals. There was discussion, however, about setting up a long-term lease for the lots. Due to environmental damage to the soil, the lots would not be available for redevelopment until at least 2024.)

The council will now begin reviewing the proposals in detail before bringing the topic up for public debate. Groups will also have the opportunity to update their proposals taking into account any feedback they received from the council. 

Here are some notes on each of the five proposals:

(Note: Not all groups provided renderings)

Titan Development & Investments and Kraus Anderson

  • Purchase the building and lots
  • Invest $3-3.5 million in redeveloping the building into a "live/work community" for artists
  • 24 living units, plus community and gallery space
  • Develop lots when environmental issues are worked out

Castle Community 

Proposal by Ross Henderson, Scott Hoss, Leyzer Topel, Naura Anderson and Rick DeVoe

  • Purchase the building and lots (open to option for long-term lease for parking)
  • Manage the building as a for-profit entity, but establish a nonprofit focused on arts and community programming
  • 1st floor: Restaurant owned by a local chef
  • 2nd floor: Independent bookstore, record shop, 10 artist studios, retail space for artists and public commons
  • 3rd floor: Event/performance space (cover image), gallery, collaborative studio and community meeting space
  • Open seven days a week with public access at all times

More information available at www.castlecommunity.org.

Multi-use entertainment venue

Proposal by Entourage Events Group and Fine Line Music Cafe, with local representative Sankesh "Sunny" Prabhakar

  • Purchase the building only
  • Multi-use event center for musical performances, weddings, comedy events, galas and more
  • Leverage in-house booking staff out of the Twin Cities to put on more than 50 events each year
  • 1st floor: Meeting space, 2nd floor: Ballroom/event space, 3rd floor: Balcony overlooking event space (image below)
  • Donate $360,000 over 3 years in the form of event space for organizations to put on meetings and events
  • Provide a venue to bring in Twin Cities-level performers, while also providing a platform for local emerging artists

More information available at rochesterarmory.com.

Creative Castle

Proposal by Robert “Bucky” Beeman & Tasos Psomas

  • Purchase the building and lots
  • Keep the space affordable, allowing it to serve as an incubator for small businesses and creative professionals
  • Use the event space for everything from art exhibits to educational events
  • Potentially add restaurant on the first floor
  • No large improvement plan: Maintain current infrastructure and take a grassroots approach to interior renovations
  • Allow for space to be adapted depending on the needs of potential tenants

Arts and Cultural Initiative

  • City maintains ownership of all property
  • Create a multi-generational facility for classes, workshops, meetings, gallery showings and events
  • Operate as a nonprofit dedicated to providing space for arts, cultural and community groups
  • Keep space accessible to the public by offering below-market rate rents and fees
  • Potential to update commercial kitchen and create retail space
  • City subsidy required early on with goal of becoming financially sustainable after a few years

More information available on the group's Facebook page.

Follow Sean on Twitter.

Cover graphic courtesy Castle Community

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