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DMC reports positive progress in downtown projects amid pandemic

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Despite the slow downs and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Destination Medical Center (DMC) has been able to continue pushing forward with its Heart of the City and Discovery Square projects.

Since the Heart of the City project began around the same time as the pandemic, it's a bit of a surprise that it hasn't seen many delays.

"We knew that with people staying home and employees not in the downtown area that slowing down would just prolong it," said Rochester Mayor Kim Norton. "So as businesses were trying to bounce back after the pandemic they would then be hit by, perhaps, two seasons of additional construction and we were trying to contract that length of time that they are impacted."

And with the mild weather during the fall and early part of winter, construction was able to continue on a little longer than expected, keeping the project on track.

"Construction also is a very tough impact on businesses," Norton said. "And so taking advantage of this time when people weren't downtown just seemed to make sense."

"We have really doubled down on our effort to talk with and work with local businesses, to minimize the impact of construction on their business," said DMC Executive Director Patrick Seeb. "And what we've learned in the process is that there are approaches we can take to phase the projects, to phase the scheduling, to make sure there is good signage, to make sure there that people know how to navigate the construction site."

The City of Rochester wanted to keep as many workers employed as possible. It followed precautions such as masking and social distancing to make that happen.

"These are local people keeping their jobs and feeding their families and investing in the community as well," Seeb said. "One way a community rebounds during a set back is to really have the people who can be employed, be employed and contributing to the economy."

The Heart of the City project is on track to be completed by late summer, with Discovery Square ready by this time next year. Discovery Walk is expected to break ground later this fall.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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