Rochester Mayor Vetoes Vote to Save Former Legends Bar Building
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton has exercised her veto power to reverse a recent decision by the City Council concerning the future of a depression-era building in downtown Rochester that was once home to one of the state's first Red Owl grocery stores.
After rejecting a request by the city's Historic Preservation Commission to declare the building a historical landmark, the Council voted 4-2 last week to continue maintaining the property in hopes a developer would want to incorporate it into a larger future development on the city-owned properties along the Zumbro River between 4th and 2nd Streets Southeast.
The mayor has now vetoed the resolution and is instead pushing for the demolition of the building, which many long-time Rochester residents remember as the Time Theater before it was used as a series of bars and restaurants, most recently Legends Bar. In a memo to the members of the City Council, Mayor Norton laid out her rationale for her veto, which included the city's original intent to demolish the building when it purchased the property about five years ago.
The Mayor contends the assumption was that a decision to reject the historical landmark designation would result in the building's demolition, and argues the expense of maintaining the building is "an unwise use of city tax dollars." Norton also argues keeping the building will "extend an unnecessary tension and complicate the redevelopment of this site."
"The financial impact and staff time spent on continued arbitration on this building is not in the best interest of the City of Rochester, and demolition should be done as quickly as possible so that the clean site is available for redevelopment. I ask that the concerns outlined in this veto message be given thoughtful consideration and that you agree to uphold the veto."
A five-vote majority would be needed for the City Council to override the veto. City Council member Shawn Palmer was among the majority of the Council that voted to retain the building and he believes there is enough support for overriding the veto. He also believes there will be a motion to set a deadline for finding a use for the building, and if it is not met, the demolition of the structure.
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