Sep. 18—The First Avenue Southwest storefronts at The Maven remain dark.
Representatives for the building that opened in 2019 say filling the retail space has been a struggle.
"I think the market rates that we are seeking for the property have been confirmed by representatives of the city as being reasonable or not excessive, so it's not for a lack of trying," said Peter Coyle, a land-use attorney representing the $38 million mixed-use complex with 154 apartments at 429 S. Broadway.
When plans for the building that fills the space from Broadway to First Avenue were approved in 2017, the joint venture by Opus Development Co., Titan Development, and Berkshire Group was allowed to nearly double standard density for the area by agreeing to commit the westside first-floor space for retail use.
Now they are asking for some flexibility.
"We are just looking to activate the space through whatever means necessary," said Peter Herbst of Berkshire. "I just want to see it full and contributing to a vibrant downtown in Rochester."
The owners are asking for the city to allow the 9,000-square-feet of ground-floor space to be eligible for restaurant or office use, in addition to potential retail.
City planner Emma Miller-Shindelar said Community Development staff sees some wiggle room in the requirements, but stops short of recommending office use.
"Community Development finds that office use would not activate the frontage in the same manner specified in the downtown master plan," she told the Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission during a recent meeting.
She said a restaurant could produce the activity the city wants to see in that area.
The commission agreed, recommending that restaurant use should be allowed, but not office space.
"I do think it's an opportune time right now to have something other than an office go into a space that is prime real estate, like this is," Commission Chairwoman Krystal Jorgenson said.
While the Planning and Zoning Commission was united in recommending the space be allowed to house a restaurant, the recommended ban on office use split members.
"In order to activate spaces such as retail and/or restaurants there needs to be people downtown," commission member Ben Kall said in voicing support for potential office space in the building.
The commission and staff recommendations will be considered by the Rochester City Council during a public hearing at its 6:15 p.m. meeting Monday. The meeting, which is being conducted in council chambers of the city-county Government Center at 151 Fourth St. SE, will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Sept. 20 include:
—City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
—City Council, 6:15 p.m. Monday. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80. It will include action by the council serving as the city's Economic Development Authority.
—Park Board study session, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Access information is available atwww.rochestermn.gov/agendas
—Planning and Zoning Commission, 6 p.m. Wednesday. Access information is available at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas
—Health, Housing and Human Services Committee, 11 a.m. Tuesday in conference room 2 of the government center.
—Housing and Redevelopment Authority, 1 p.m. Tuesday in board chambers of the government center.
—Administrative Committee, 2 p.m. Tuesday in board chambers of the government center.
—Board of County Commissioners, 3 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the government center.
—Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments, noon Wednesday in conference room 186 at 2122 Campus Drive SE.
Rochester Public Schools
—School Board, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW.