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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Rochester's Armory to be transformed into the 'Castle Community'

Rochester's Armory to be transformed into the 'Castle Community'

The Rochester City Council reached a consensus Monday afternoon to move forward with a proposal to transform the historic Armory building into a multi-use space featuring a restaurant, independent book store and community meeting area. 

The project, dubbed "Castle Community," was selected out of a pool of five proposals. A plan to turn the building into an entertainment and music venue finished as the runner-up.

City Council President Randy Staver said he was impressed by both proposals, but preferred the Castle Community concept because of the mix of amenities that would be offered. 

"It seems to resonate, in my mind, more with the visitors and people who live in the downtown community," said Staver.

Only council members Annalissa Johnson and Ed Hruska favored the music venue proposal, put forward by Entourage Events Group and Fine Line Music Cafe. Council member Michael Wojcik said he was open to either proposal, calling them both "viable options."

"I, too, want them both but we only have one Armory," said Wojcik.

City administration will now begin working with the Castle Community group to draft a contract for the sale of the property. Once the contract is put into place, the council will need to take formal action on the proposal. That will likely happen within the next month. While financial details have not been made public (per state statute), the building has been appraised at $675,000. 

Rendering of Armory's 3rd floor / Courtesy Castle Community

Rendering of Armory's 3rd floor / Courtesy Castle Community

The downtown building, located at 121 N. Broadway, was built in 1915 as an armory for the Minnesota National Guard. It is now one of about two dozen properties in the county on the National Register of Historic Places. It was most recently home to the Senior Center.

"The Castle Community team is ecstatic to know our vision can become a reality at the Rochester Armory," the group (Ross Henderson, Scott Hoss, Leyzer Topel, Naura Anderson and Rick DeVoe) wrote on Facebook following the council's decision. "We are committed to working with local arts and culture enthusiasts to make the Armory a unique and vibrant community asset."

Here are some additional details on the proposal:

  • 1st floor: Restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner with a focus on fresh, locally-sourced food
  • 2nd floor: Independent bookstore, record shop, 10 artist studios, retail space for artists and public commons
  • 3rd floor: Event/performance space, gallery, collaborative studio and community meeting space
  • Open seven days a week with public access at all times

Additional information is available on the group's website.

Cover graphic courtesy Castle Community

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