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Rochester City Council agrees to sell old Dooley site for $ 1.4 million

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Rochester City Council voted on Monday to approve a purchase agreement with Powers Companies for the old Dooley site – despite dissent from some members who raised concerns about the deal process.

The $ 1.4 deal, which had the backing of city staff, followed a request for proposals from the city that received little to no interest. During this process, however, the city listed the property for rent, not for sale.

Council member Patrick Keane, who voted in favor of the deal, said he did not “necessarily feel good” about how the proposal had reached Council. Nonetheless, noting the complexity of the deal, he described it as “a messy thing, but in balance, it’s good for our city”.

“These aren’t the kinds of deals you go to the highest bidder with,” Keane said. “It’s a lot more complicated because you live with these new people in the [restaurant space]. “

Keane also added that the city is a “weak owner” who “should try to stay out of this business where we can.”

“If a private company wants to own them and do the same mission, I think we’re better served than the city that owns them,” he said.

Keane was joined by four other colleagues – Board Members Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick, Shaun Palmer and Mark Bransford, as well as Board Chair Brooke Carlson – in supporting the motion.

“We’re in an existing lease with someone who isn’t paying the rent right now, and the business isn’t open; and I think we have to move forward and I think that will help downtown Rochester in a better way, ”said Palmer.

Mayor Kim Norton also expressed his support for the deal, noting that Powers Ventures founder Joe Powers was someone the community “knows and respects”. She also commented that the city was “happy” to pull out of the bar rental market. (She didn’t suggest that the city sell the entire BioBusiness Center, like Kirkpatrick did.)

Council members Molly Dennis and Nick Campion were the only two to vote against the deal. Although both said the deal wasn’t bad on paper – and they had no qualms about Powers Ventures coming forward with the proposal – they were concerned about selling the property beforehand. to submit it to a competitive bidding process.

“I think it’s done very quickly,” Dennis said. “I don’t think it’s transparent… what I heard from the audience [is] maybe favoritism or lack of offers, and I think we should reopen that and go slower to have a more competitive [bidding process]. “

Dennis added, “Selling it so quickly I think gives some people a bad rap and loses public trust.”

Prior to council comments, city staff championed the process, noting how unique the property was. For example, they noted that the condo / retail unit is connected to an existing parking structure – and the agreement includes provisions for scenarios involving the potential demolition of the ramp.

“It is very difficult to be a public entity that operates commercial real estate in this space. You have a number of other properties that are in clear earth … but I would probably say this is one of the more unique sales we would look at, simply because of the nature of how the condo unit is an integral part of the parking ramp, ”said city administrator Alison Zelms.

The purchase price of $ 1.4 million for the site, 255 First Avenue SW, is the estimated value of the property. It is also almost the same amount of federal funding Joe Powers’ PH Catering LLC received under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund of $ 28.6 billion.

Nick Powers, President of Powers Ventures, said last week that the proposed concept “will provide a family atmosphere, relaxed and laid back, with… a unique and fun dining experience”. The restaurant, he said, would be ready to open later this year after a complete renovation. It will likely be open until around 10 p.m. and provide a “Chesters-style” experience, Zelms added.

Sean Baker is a Rochester reporter and the founder of Med City Beat.