University of Minnesota readies next step for future Rochester campus

The University of Minnesota's logo adorns the outside of the University Square mall in downtown Rochester Friday, May 10, 2013. The Rochester campus is currently is located inside the shopping center. Alex Kolyer / For MPR News 2013

Officials with the University of Minnesota Rochester continue to move ahead with plans to build a campus just south of the city’s downtown district.

UMR will launch the second phase of its Campus Master Plan later this month. The planning process is expected to last eight to 10 months, according to Doug Knott, Rochester’s development administrator.

The plan will help university and city officials conceptualize and design the future campus and will update UMR’s initial master plan, which was launched in 2009 before the campus owned any land or had any students.

Currently, the university is located in a shopping mall just a few blocks from the Mayo Clinic. It now has more than 400 undergraduates and almost 40 graduate students specializing in health sciences. University officials hope enrollment will grow to a total of 5,000 students in the next two decades. The university’s first class graduated last May.

To help the campus move forward with plans for the future, the city council also recently approved the release of $2.28 million so the university can continue to acquire properties for the campus. The money comes from a half-cent sales tax extension, which Rochester voters approved in 2012. In all, it includes $14 million for UMR to build a campus.

University and city officials estimate it’ll still be another 5 to 6 years before the campus sees its first building. In the meantime, the university continues to acquire properties as it assembles about 10 acres for the future campus.