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'Start of something big': Winona seeks large downtown project, requests plans for lot near river
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'Start of something big': Winona seeks large downtown project, requests plans for lot near river

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A parking lot with possibilities is what the city of Winona, Port Authority and Opportunity Winona are advertising to developers.

The three groups are jointly involved in the potential development of the parking lot at 60 Main Street, which sits behind the Winona 7 Theatre near the river, and officially announced a request for proposals for its development Thursday.

The groups are looking for development that would ideally use the almost one-acre area in a way that would fill development gaps downtown, whether in housing, business or combinations of ways.

The lot is currently owned by the Port Authority of Winona, and it is expected that site excavation and fill will be necessary prior to development, as was found in earlier assessments the Port Authority conducted to pave the way for new developments.

City Manager Steve Sarvi said the request for proposals, which is open until the end of December, coincides with the completion of a citywide housing study that is expected to be done in the next few weeks.

Sarvi said the development, which is the first major initiative of Opportunity Winona since it was launched almost a year ago, will also dovetail with other downtown developments, especially the Levee Park and Main Street gateway project.

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“We think this is a continuation of the vision (of Opportunity Winona),” Sarvi said. “We think Winona has it all … and this will be a very big step.”

They have been looking at potentially developing the parking lot since it was identified in the city’s 2007 comprehensive plan, and more recently by Opportunity Winona, a nearly year-old collaboration among the city, Port Authority, Winona Chamber and other partners.

Mayor Mark Peterson said a development would both continue and increase the revitalization of downtown, and called the spot “probably one of the best, developable sites in Winona.”

“It’s really exciting to see this finally start coming together,” Peterson said. “This is really the start of something big.”

Some of the city’s other development goals, including the proposed $2.4 million investment in Levee Park, are on similar timelines. Any development of 60 Main Street is hoped to begin construction 2017, which the Levee Park Project is supposed to be finished by the end of.

The site would be subject to the updated zoning code once that is finished in early 2017. The proposed zoning designation for the area is Mixed Use-Downtown, which permits a mix of residential and commercial uses.

One of the goals of the city and Port Authority is to work with the developers to either keep the public parking on-site, or in the immediate vicinity.

“It’s really exciting to see this finally start coming together. This is really the start of something big.” Mark Peterson, Winona mayor

“It’s really exciting to see this finally start coming together. This is really the start of something big.”

Mark Peterson, Winona mayor

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