Rochester's Mayo Clinic is expanding....up!

Minnesota's healthcare giant creating more clinic space plus world-class hotel

The WCCO Morning News with Dave Lee
September 19, 2018 - 11:31 am

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The Mayo Clinic in Rocherster could be expanding.  That expansion is going up however.  The healthcare giant is getting taller, literally. Mayo Clinic is partnering with a Singapore real estate developer to expand downtown Rochester's Gonda Building, adding 11 stories and a 200-room "premier hotel" that will make the building the tallest in the city.  

The addition is part of Mayo's multi-billion dollar make-over, funded in part by the State of Minnesota.  Mayo would contribute $190 million to the project. 

In a statement, Mayo Clinics executive dean of practice, Dr. C. Michel Harper Jr. said, "Mayo Clinic is experiencing increased requests for care across our campuses, and meeting the current and future medical needs of our patients is our top priority.  We’re experiencing significant patient care space constraints on our Rochester campus, so we’re excited that this collaboration with Pontiac Land allows us to reach our expansion goals earlier to ensure that we have the infrastructure in place to provide the best possible care to our patients for generations to come.”

The Gonda Building is already part of the Mayo Clinic, serving as an entry point for pations and the home for various clinics.  Mayo's investment would include another 200,000 square feet of new clinical space and space for outpatient procedures. 

Mayo draws patients from around the world, including wealthier oil-exporting countries.  These patients may need state-of-the-art medical care, while their families seek world-class accommodations.

According to Paul Vaaler, of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School, "That's a big probable impetus for the addition.  Of course, world-class transportation would also make Rochester and the Mayo even more attractive."  

Ten years ago, the federal government was ready to fund high-speed rail connections from the Twin Cities and on to Chicago, but legislators couldn't figure out how to fund the project.  In order to fund the project, the Obama administration insisted on expanding the project to reach Chicago, but support wasn't there from Wisconsin, where the high-speed rail would need to pass through.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been opposed to the project, and a recent study was also shut down.  

Rep. Paul Torkelson told the Rochester Post-Bulletin, "Wisconsin has made it very clear that they have no interest whatsoever in the project and for us to continue to accept federal dollars for a project that has no future is just not sensible in my book." 

Vaaler told Dave Lee on WCCO Radio, "Maybe there's a still an appetite for world-class air and rail connections, but don't expect the current Administration to feed it.  Some mix of private and State of Minnesota funding might be feasible.  As Mayo builds up, those investors can build out and connect Mayo better to the rest of the world."