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Groundbreaking Building 1 Discovery Square

PlanScape Impact(s): Economic Development
Last modified: November 06, 2017 Public Report From Discovery Square One


Per PB Reporting


After years of discussion, the ceremonial groundbreaking for Rochester's first Discovery Square inspired many grand visions about the future of the Destination Medical Center initiative on Thursday.

Mayo Clinic leaders, city officials and local business representatives crowded into a heated tent Thursday to officially launch construction of the Minneapolis-based Mortenson Co.'s new 89,000-square-foot building to anchor DMC's Discovery Square subdistrict at the corner of Second Avenue and Fifth Street Southwest. That's on Mayo Clinic's employee parking Lot No. 2.

It's expected to be finished before the end of 2019.

The building will be the first of several science and research complexes that could total up to 2 million square feet in the 16-block Discovery Square area.

While only about half of the first building has signed commitments from tenants, Mortenson Chair David Mortenson told the crowd that his firm is already looking ahead to the next project.

"We are now in conversations with over two dozen potential tenants that come from four different countries," he said. "That's resulted in us already starting the design of Phase II."

His comments and those of Lt. Governor Tina Smith, City Council President Randy Staver, Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy and DMC leader Lisa Clarke. After they concluded, the whole crowd moved out into the parking lot when the construction is starting and watch them ceremonially scoop dirt with golden shovels.

Mayo Clinic will be the anchor tenant of this new building with a commitment to lease 30,000 square feet spread over three floors. The University Minnesota Rochester has also expressed interest in basing student labs in the building, but those negotiations are ongoing.

Noseworthy explained that offices and labs working on regenerative products, biomedical technology (lab tests) and advanced diagnostic (medical imaging) will be based in the new building.

Those are all areas that are working on the medical tests, devices or treatments in the late stages and ready for commercialization. The concept is that science companies interested in partnering with Mayo Clinic or, at least, licensing the intellectual property will move into the center to ease collaboration.

"Business folks will come here from all over the world to work together to address our patients unmet needs," said Noseworthy.

The vision of multiple businesses working with Mayo Clinic to create new medical treatments and test is inspiring, said Mortenson at the podium at the groundbreaking.

"Where else could you stand and say we are here to revolutionize medicine to change history and to have an impact not just on millions, but perhaps billions, of people across the world?" he asked rhetorically. "Where could you stand and know that is credible other than right here in Rochester, Minnesota."

This new building will be a concrete example of the DMC vision. Critics have often pointed out that the $6 billion initiative has spurred a lot of discussion, but little construction. The Hilton hotel under construction on North Broadway is most prominent project to move forward, though several other developments are in the pipeline.



PlanScape Impact(s): Economic Development
Last modified: November 06, 2017 Public Report From Discovery Square One

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  • For the commercial sector, we tend to register startup activities (new companies and new commercial projects) that bring diversification and high-impact opportunities to the area.
  • For the non-profit sector, we wish to shine light on all the organizations and services that otherwise labor under relative obscurity.
  • Our hope is that will encourage cross-sector collaborations and creative solutions.

While there are a number of registries in the community,'s  distinct value is to pilot a database with a data structure and categorizations that answer the questions such as: What organizations or projects/programs in our community that have purported relevance with some of the over-arching focuses put forward by initiatives such as DMC, J2G and Health Improvements?

This database could be used as one of the ways to explore the capacities of the community. If you are someone on an exploratory journey to learn about the greater Rochester community. could be an interesting first step.

The following defines the various project phases:
  1. Available - a product, program or service is in production
  2. Develop - program or application is being developed
  3. Plan - idea is solid, stakeholders are identified, and there is strong commitment to go forward from all parties.
  4. Concept Phase - idea scoped out with enough details to give an early sizing and/or to build a proof of concept
  5. Pre-concept Phase - an early idea or a requirement.
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