Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester City Council will be presented Monday with the proposed designs for Phase 1 of the public improvements to the “Heart of the City” in downtown Rochester.

Improving the aesthetics, accessibility, and usability the existing Peace Plaza has been one of the top priorities of the Destination Medical Center Corporation Board and has been in the planning stages for several years. The current project schedule calls for cost estimates to be developed this summer and the plans brought back for final approval late this year. The DMC plan has $15 million budgeted for the project.

The plans that will be presented to the City Council cover the Peace Plaza, adjoining areas along 1st Avenue Southwest and the north-south alley between 1st Avenue and South Broadway. They include a redesign to the base of the Peace Plaza fountain, convertible seating that can also be used to create elevated stages for performances and a curbless design for 1st Avenue that would enhance pedestrian traffic.

The project designers say the designs would increase the number of trees in the area by almost 100, add 17 ADA “handicapped” functional parking spaces to the downtown, and allow for more winter-use of the space by including heated seating and upgrades that would ease the programming of events in the Peace Plaza in cold weather.

If all goes as planned, the city could begin seeking bids for the project in the late fall and work on the Heart of the City plans could get underway early next year and be completed in May of 2021.

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