Rochester's City Council approved hiring an independent consultant to assess the Mayo Civic Center's business model at the City Council meeting on Monday. The City voted 6-1 to contract with Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. Council member Nick Campion opposed the motion.
Dan Fenton was chosen to lead the assessment project due to his familiarity with the Civic Center and Experience Minnesota's Rochester. As well as his previous work on the 2012-13 Mayo Civic Center Operation and Management Study.
The assessment aims to make the Civic Center more competitive in Rochester's growing economy, maximize revenues, and reduce annual public expenditures. This will be a two-phase study and take approximately eight months to complete. The total cost of this contract is about $94,500. The City plans to use the Mayo Civic Center’s unrestricted fund balance for this review.
This comes after a five-year budget forecast was presented at a Committee of the Whole meeting in March. The forecasts project that the annual investment of the City's portion of the lodging tax will continue to increase, reaching an estimated $2.5 million by 2023.
The council also passed the use of Capital Investment Funding, or CIP, up to $1 million for the renovation of the Chateau Theatre in Rochester. The City purchased the building historic building for $6 million two years ago and plans to turn it into a multi-purpose concert and meeting venue at a cost of $23 million. The CIP funding will allow for limited upgrades while discussions for full renovations continue. Some of the initial work includes restroom renovations and upgrades to meet the mandatory safety requirements.
Mayor Brede says he and many others have been frustrated with the lack of progress and explains there's a lot of complicate renovations that need to be done: eliminating the second floor, adding an elevator, making space for dressing rooms, building multi-purpose floors. Brede adds the work needed to complete this project will take several years.
"It's complicated but we're moving in the right direction," said Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede.
The council also unanimously passed $350,000 in CIP funding towards the Heart of the City Project.