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City of Rochester works toward “Riverfront Reimagined” project

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Another downtown Rochester casualty announced, but with this one, there's chance for new life.

Legends Bar and Grill took to Facebook Wednesday to announce it's closing. The post said Gov. Tim Walz's announcement allowing restaurants to reopen partially Monday came "just a couple days too late." The bar said it received an email from the city of Rochester earlier in the week, informing the owners their lease has been terminated as the city instead prepares for a new Riverfront development.

"It's just a key location downtown and a gateway to the riverfront," Rochester Project Manager Josh Johnsen said.

Now dubbed "Riverfront Reimagined," the project has been in the works since the Legends property was purchased in 2013. Assistant City Administrator Terry Spaeth said it was a long time coming. After discussing with the business owner, Spaeth said with pandemic woes, the timing seemed right.

"It would be very difficult to generate enough revenue to offset various business expenses such as rent and what not," Spaeth said. "So, it just feels like the time is right."

The city has worked with different developers and projects over the years, but the latest includes several sites around the water.

"What the city is looking at now is to create a comprehensive vision where Legends sits on, as well as the water front area, and Kmart to create a broader vision downtown," Johnsen said.

Spaeth said it will be taken to the city council for approval to get a demolition bid. It will first transform into a green space this spring, then something more, depending on community feedback.

"With DMC and the projects that we've been doing with the Heart of the City, we think of connections...," Johnsen said. "So, if you think of this circular link, this is just one key link of that chain."

Connecting, while at the same time, setting the city apart.

"It has got great potential," Spaeth said.

KTTC did reach out to Legends for comment but did not get a response. The bar did wish its customers a "happy, healthy and prosperous" future; ending its statement on social media with: "don't forget about us as we will never forget about you."

Beret Leone

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