ROCHESTER — A decision on the creation of a proposed historic district downtown remains on hold.
Rochester City Council chose not to reconsider the Heritage Preservation Commission’s proposal during its most recent meeting, making it unclear when further discussions will take place.
“My individual perspective is that the historic district deserves a discussion and a decision after years of deliberation, but the timing wasn’t right last night,” Council President Brooke Carlson said after the council decided to raise the issue during its March 20 meeting to put on ice.
She said she is looking to the Rochester Downtown Alliance discussions and other staff input to better understand what support is desired by impacted property owners and how it could impact the city’s taxpayers.
The proposed district would be approximately three city blocks, mostly between Broadway Avenue and First Avenue Southwest. The northern boundary would include buildings north of Second Street Southwest, and the southern line would run primarily along Fourth Street Southwest.
A lone lot south of Fourth Street Southwest – the Riverside Building at 400 S Broadway Ave. – would be included in the district.
Buildings viewed as contributing to the district were identified based on their use during specific periods of downtown development between 1870 and 1962. Most of the buildings were constructed over a 50 year period beginning in the 1870s.
Like Carlson, other council members noted the need for more information and discussion on the issue before a decision could be made.
Councilor Norman Wahl said he would also like more information on the financial implications of designating a district
“It didn’t seem to me that council members felt ready to take the point off the table,” he said of the council’s 2019 decision to shelve the issue, with staff instructed to help outline existing incentives and the Collecting contributions from owners to work .
This information was provided to the Council during a study session on February 13, 2023.
Councilor Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick, whose congregation includes part of the proposed district, said councilors appear to have differing opinions on the issue and further discussion is needed to define options
Molly Patterson-Lungren, the city’s heritage and urban planning coordinator, said these discussions will require the council to officially “take the issue off the table”.
“They raised some issues and we have answers to those,” she said, adding that any additional staffing work will likely require formal direction from the council once discussion on the district resumes.
Taking the issue “off the table” does not require a final decision and can be used to ask additional questions for employees or provide new instructions before a decision is made.
John Kruesel, an owner of one of the properties in the district, called on the council to take action during the March 20 council meeting, citing the need for “real and affordable” incentives for historic property owners who are facing higher property taxes because of the increase are confronted with inner city development in recent years.
The Heritage Preservation Commission, which meets Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the council chambers of the City-County Government Center, has routinely discussed the proposed district since recommending it to the council in 2019, but is unable to take further action on the point .
Meetings scheduled for the week of March 27 include:
- Public Utility Board, Tuesday 4:00 p.m. in the Rochester Public Utilities Common Room, 4000 East River Road NE.
- Heritage Preservation Commission, 6:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Council Chambers of the Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE.
- Introducing the New Commissioner in Environmental Resources, Tuesday, 4:00 p.m., 2100 Campus Drive SE.