Co-op to add more parking with $1.3 million land purchase
Growing popularity of a south Rochester conference center is the driver behind a $1.3 million land purchase to create a new parking lot.
The Southeast Service Cooperative, which is known as the host for community spelling bees and Knowledge Bowl events, closed on a deal Friday to buy a little more than five acres of open land just east of the non-profit co-op's complex at at 210 Wood Lake Drive S.E. That puts it in the shadow of Whistle Binkies South.
It bought the land from the Olmsted Medical Center. Rochester attorney David Pederson of the Wendland Utz law firm handled the deal.
Co-op Executive Director Suzanne Riley said that in recent years the co-op's Wood Lake Meeting Center has been seeing more use from community groups as well as from Southeast Service's membership of schools, cities, counties and other non-profits.
Dale Walston, director of operations for the meeting center, said its use has increased in the past few years.
A marketing push coupled with the center's technology offerings, such as smart boards and projectors in all of its four rooms, have boosted that use, he said.
"We think the potential is there to do even more," Walston said.
But one limitation stands in the way.
"One thing that has been lacking is ample parking space," Riley said. In addition to better serving its clients and members, more parking will put the center in the running to attract meetings that it can't serve now.
The plan is to turn about half of the five acres into a new lot in the spring. That'll add between 200 to 250 spaces to the co-op's current 30 spots.
What about the rest of the unused land, which was bought as a block?
The board of directors is looking for suggestions for possible uses that are in tune with Southeast Service's focus on education and non-profit involvement. One possible example, Riley said, could be allowing next-door neighbor Channel One to use some of it for a garden to raise food for its clients.
While the co-op was formed in 1976, it is still kind of confusing to many. That's easy to understand, because of the wide range of services it offers.
The co-op handles group purchasing and administrative support services for its more than 80 member organizations, which includes 42 schools and other educational institutions.