Capital Ventures LLC, which is managed by Rochester Realtor Melissa Niichel, has appealed a decision by Rochester’s Heritage Preservation Commission, which put conditions on proposed plans.
“The developer appeals HPC’s conditional approval and requests the council approve the project for the ‘certificate of appropriateness’ pilot program,’ so long as the project is developed up to and in accordance with the original plans submitted to the HPC for consideration at the June 8, 2021, special HPC meeting,” states the unsigned appeal from Capital Ventures.
The appeal is expected to be reviewed by the Rochester City Council during its 6 p.m. meeting Monday.
The Heritage Preservation Commission approved the potential for adding two stories to the building at 7 Second St. SW, but added conditions that would likely scale back portions of the project. The conditions included requiring the added floors to be setback from the front of the building, removing plans for three new alleyway windows on the existing structure and repairing damaged stone rather than covering it with metal.
Following the 4-2 vote supporting the conditions, one of the building’s owners, A.J. Hawkins, echoed concerns cited by the project’s architect during the commission meeting earlier this month. Those concerns are that the changes would limit the potential for the plan.
“The conditions imposed by the HPC may have killed this project,” Hawkins wrote in an email to the Post Bulletin.
Niichel, who said Capital Ventures includes several Rochester residents, had planned to purchase and start work on the project earlier this year, before the building was discovered to be a potential city landmark.
On June 8, commission members supporting the conditions for renovation said it’s important to maintain the 102-year-old building’s potential to meet national and state historic preservation standards.
“We’re trying to preserve the building,” commission member Barry Skolnick said.
Two commission members, however, said some flexibility should be provided to make the project feasible and keep it a viable part of the city.
“I think this is a really quality building, and I’d like to see it preserved as part of our downtown,” commission member Gail Eadie.
She was joined by Commission Vice Chairman Mark Carlson in opposing the conditions.
The commission was unanimous in recommending the building be designated as an official city landmark, which would offer some potential protections or oversight related to exterior changes.
Capital Ventures is asking the Rochester City Council to postpone a decision on the building’s landmark status until as late as Dec. 31, 2022, to provide time to address the proposed renovations.
The landmark review is being conducted with a July 26 deadline, based on a demolition permit requested by the property owners. The deadline can be extended if the applicant and the city council agree to a new date.
On a related subject, the council also will review proposed updates to the city’s Heritage Preservation ordinance Monday.
The council is meeting in person in the chambers at the city-county Government Center, but maintains the option for members to join remotely.
The public can attend the meeting in the chambers or watch the livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas. It is also available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of June 14 include:
• City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday in city council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
• City Council, 6 p.m. Monday in city council chambers of the city-county Government Center. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.
• Heritage Preservation Commission special meeting, 5 p.m. Tuesday. Access information for the online meeting is available at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas
• Planning and Zoning Commission, 6 p.m. Wednesday. Access information is available at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas