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September 19, 2016

It's a brave new blog

Kigersaysheh-tshirtAfter 11 years of all sorts of news, goofiness, errors, corrections, thousands of 'Hehs' and more, things are changing at this blog.

New "blog" postings are now moving to a new blog section on the revamped and upgraded Post-Bulletin web site. Right now my recent columns are collected there, but expect new, incredibly interesting postings to go up there soon.

This blog will remain live on Typepad, so everyone can still access the years and years of Kiger typos, until we get all of the archives shifted to the new version of the blog.

So hang on, we're going off-roading into new territory. It might get a bit bumpy, but I promise it will be fun.

September 15, 2016

Lawyer who hit Rochester businesses on ADA issues is suspended

A Minneapolis lawyer, who filed suits against a variety of Rochester businesses last year for possible violations of the American Disability Act, has been suspended from practicing law.

Paul Robert Hansmeier threatened a string of lawsuits in Rochester last summer against at leaset eight Rochester businesses including, Bilotti's Pizzeria, Hillcrest Shopping Center and the Kahler Grand Hotel. Many of the businesses characterized the lawsuits as "a get rich quick scheme."

Today the Pioneer Press reported that Hansmeier has been suspended from practicing law in Minnesota. The story by Richard Chin stated that he was censured for profiting from actions that were essentially "a legal shakedown."

Here's some from Chin's article:

Paul Robert Hansmeier, 35, was engaged in the practice of filing “porno-trolling” lawsuits to make “easy money” on copyright cases, according to one federal judge. The court suspended him for a range of misconduct ranging from lying to the courts, failing to pay fees and filing frivolous lawsuits.

PaulhansmeierFindings in courts in the porn video copyright cases suggested that Hansmeier profited from what was described as a “legal shakedown” in so-called “John Doe” copyright-infringement lawsuits.

The John Doe defendants, people who downloaded pornographic movies, would be served with notice of a pending copyright violation lawsuit by Hansmeier or his associates, according to court documents.

The defendants usually took a settlement deal and paid a few thousand dollars instead of hiring an attorney to fight the lawsuit and suffer potential social stigma of being accused of stealing pornography.

--------

According to one judge, Hansmeier and his colleagues “suffer from a form of moral turpitude unbecoming of an officer of the court.”

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Hansmeier has also been criticized for filing a rash of lawsuits in Minnesota targeting businesses he claimed weren’t in compliance with disability access laws.

Hansmeier said Wednesday that he wasn’t sure if he would seek reinstatement as a lawyer four years from now, but that he would continue to work on behalf of the disabled

 

 

 

 

 who described himself as “a leader in the field” of suing people who illegally download videos from porn companies has been indefinitely suspended from practicing law by the Minnesota Supreme Court.


Paul Hansmeier

, 35,

New hotel plans by Zumbro River #rochmn

Plans for a new 103-room, extended hotel in southwest Rochester are starting to move ahead.

North Rock Real Estate, a tandem effort of Jeff Brown Jr. and Mike Zirbes, is proposing building a four-story Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel along the Zumbro River, next to the under construction Red44 luxury apartment complex.

HiltonhotelplansBoth projects are located at Mayowood Road and 16th Street Southwest, just across the river from the Apache Mall.

The Red44 developers, Minneapolis-based CPM Cos. and Roers Investments LLC of Long Lake, Minn., plan to have their 159-unit apartment complex ready to open late next summer.

North Rock hopes to start construction of the Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel in the spring. It will stand near 16th Street and along the river.

"The idea is to target people staying for a days with a place to be comfortable with unique amenities," said Brown Jr.

The hotel, as proposed, will include a large grilling patio overlooking the river as well as a pool and easy access to the adjacent bike path. Details for the hotel have not been completely finalized yet.

Next to the hotel, North Rock would like to build a commercial building of up to 6,000 square feet to house retail shops and/restaurants. Plans for that project are not as far along as the ones for the hotel.

September 14, 2016

Mayo Clinic actually bought all 3 of 'IBM White Buildings'

I got it wrong yesterday. I wrote that Mayo Clinic bought the 4111 Building in Rochester's 41st Professional Campus for $10 million. It turns out that Mayo bought all three buildings - 3033, 3055 and 4111 - for $10 million on Sept. 1.

I apologize for the error.

I looked at a state document, which only listed the 4111 building in the sale. Olmsted County had not published the sale yet on its website and Mayo Clinic could not respond to my questions on Monday. I probably should have waited to confirm the details on Tuesday, but I thought I had enough to get the basics of the sale out there and then follow up once Mayo Clinic filled in the blanks.

Here's some from column on this in today's paper:

In turns out that Mayo Clinic bought all three buildings in Rochester's 41st Street Professional Campus, known locally as the IBM White Buildings, earlier this month.

NorthwestclinicI reported in Tuesday's column that Mayo Clinic purchased the 4111 West Frontage Road building, which houses its Mayo Family Clinic Northwest.

The $10 million Mayo Clinic paid to New York Life Insurance Co. on Sept. 1 actually paid for all three sprawling, connected buildings. In total, the complex is 435,000 square feet in size. 

Olmsted County estimated the market value of the three connected buildings at $13.8 million for 2016, so it looks like Mayo got a pretty good deal.

"With existing leases set to expire at this site at year end 2017, Mayo Clinic was presented with the opportunity to purchase the three-building campus. This purchase will secure our existing occupied space long-term and allow us to avoid any patient-care disruption associated with any relocation and provide an opportunity to address growth and consolidation needs for various departments," said Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Kelley Luckstein about the purchase on Tuesday.

The purchase opens open more space for the ever-growing Mayo Clinic, since the 3055 building is empty.

"The investment will allow for consolidation of certain administrative, clinical, educational and research functions that do not need to be in the proximity of downtown. This will then open up space downtown to expand various functions that are critical to the downtown area,” added Luckstein, via email.

There are five non-Mayo tenants leasing space in the 3033 building. Luckstein says the change in ownership "will not have an impact on their current occupancies."

 

 

September 12, 2016

Mayo Clinic buys 2 Rochester properties for total of $10.2 million

Sold-signMayo Clinic must have had some money burning a hole in its pocket on Sept. 1.

On that day, Mayo Clinic bought a northwest Rochester building for $10 million and a house in southwest Rochester for $217,000.

I'm waiting for response from Mayo Clinic about their plans for those buildings. I should have more soon.

September 09, 2016

Foreign patient numbers trending down at Mayo Clinic


I'm wading through a 216 page statement Mayo-clinic-logo for issuance of $220  million bonds by the City of Rochester for Mayo Clinic.

While that might not sound very exciting, there are a lot of interesting details. This document is looked at bond buyers who are judging Mayo Clinic's stability.

Here's one thing that jumped out at me:

Foreign patients, not including Canadians, accounted for 1 percent of the patient population in Rochester in 2013.

That dropped to .03 percent in 2014 and 2015.

I don't know how many patients that accounts for or why the numbers are down. Plus I don't know if t
hat trend is continuing in 2016. I have submitted those questions to Mayo Clinic.

I realize this is a random fact, but it interests me. And there there a lot more little tidbits like this in the bond statement.

 

September 08, 2016

Rochester 'Gold Rush' spurring bank, credit union branches

I'll have a full piece on this in the weekend paper. Here's a sample with some extra data.

At a time when many banks and credit union are seeing less people using branches, Rochester is in the midst of a mini-branch building boom.

In 2009, banks had U.S. 99,550 branches, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. By the end of 2015, that national number fell to 92,997.

09-01 2construction enRochester has 46 bank branches and five credit union branches. That's a bank or credit union branch for every 2,093 of Rochester's 106,769 residents.

Rochester is the bucking the national trend when it comes to branches. The easy answer to the question of why is the Med City's robust economic growth powered by Mayo Clinic makes it attractive for banks and credit unions.

However, each institution has their own ideas about branches.

• Altra Credit Union has purchased two parcels to build future branches.

• West Bank has a large branch under construction along West Circle Drive.

• Think Mutual Bank is building a new branch in northeast Rochester. 

• La Crosse, Wis.-based Coulee Bank is transforming the former Family Service Rochester building on Civic Center Drive into a branch.

Data from Minnesota Bankers Association

• For the record, Duluth has 35 bank branches. I don't know how many credit union branches. Duluth has a population of 86,277.

• Mankato has 28 bank branches. I don't know how many credit union branches. Mankato has a population of 39,396.

A national study found most bank chains in the U.S. reduced their number of branches in 2015.

• Wells Fargo - 6,272 branches down 39 from 2014

• US Bank - 3,209 branches down 35 from 2014

• Associated Bank - 224 branches down 13 from 2014.

 

 

August 30, 2016

Credit union pays $1.3M to join Rochester's 'Financial Row'

Rochester's West Circle Drive is rapidly becoming "Financial Row" as Altra Federal Credit Union plans to build a branch to join the ranks of the many banks on that stretch of road.

The La Crosse, Wis.-based credit union bought land on the open southwest corner at West Circle Drive and 19th Street Northwest for $1.35 million on Thursday. 

Cheryl Dutton, Altra's vice president of marketing, confirmed the credit union plans to build a full-service, 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot branch at the high-traffic intersection. It should employ an estimated eight to 10 employees.

Altra Credit Union"We're hopeful about breaking ground in early 2017. Then we hope to open the branch by fall of 2017," said Dutton.

This new spot will put Altra in the mix with Home Federal Savings Bank, Associated Bank, West Bank and US Bank. All of those banks have branches on or near that intersection. Think Mutual Bank and Olmsted National Bank also have major branches within a few miles of the intersection.

Altra opened its first Rochester branch in 2012 at 123 16th Ave. SW in the Shoppes on Second development. Then in later December 2015, the Wisconsin credit union spent $1.25 million to buy land in the Chateau Circle commercial development at 55th Street Northwest and Chateau Road.

Dutton says Altra still plans to build a branch there, though the West Circle Drive one will now be built first. The Chateau Circle branch probably will not break ground before 2019.

"We do plan to have multiple branches in Rochester," she said. "It's amazing how much faster than we expected that business in Rochester has grown."

Altra began in 1931 as the Trane Employees Credit Union. It has Minnesota branches in La Crescent and Winona as well as Rochester. Overall, it has 18 locations in eight states.

August 26, 2016

Mayo Clinic employment numbers are up and down

The number of Mayo Clinic employees has swung dramatically up and down since the passage of the Destination Medical Center legislation. 
 
Mayo-clinic-logoOn Thursday, Mayo Clinic leaders touted Rochester job growth to the Destination Medical Center Corp. board, saying the clinic has added 3,370 new positions in the last 12 months. However, that growth didn't quite carry the clinic's Rochester employee numbers out of the low point they were in last year.

"We are growing," said Jeff Bolton, Mayo Clinic's chief administrative officer and chairman of the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency Board. "Mayo is all in and committed." 

Bolton said Mayo Clinic had 34,175 employees in Rochester at the end of July. That is an increase of 3,370 jobs from the low point of 30,805 Rochester employees in August 2015.

While Mayo Clinic is adding local jobs, its employment numbers still are well below the 34,562 employees the Rochester clinic recorded at the end of 2015.

The figures show that 3,390 jobs were lost in 2015 between January to July. Then the numbers rose 3,757 by the end of December.

"It’s difficult to point out any trends in a 12-month cycle," Mayo Clinic spokesman Karl Oestreich said via email. "Mayo Clinic usually experiences about an average 2 percent annual growth. This rate varies each year — some years (like last year) more and other years less. Last year’s growth is ahead of that clip."

During his report to the board, Bolton said the increase in the past 12 months is because of patient demand being "extremely strong." He cited that new jobs are "a broad range of positions."

When asked what the average salaries are for the new jobs and what type of jobs they are, Mayo Clinic did not have that information available.

"We haven't done that analysis as to what job codes comprised most of the new/incremental positions. Good question, but unfortunately we don’t have a quick answer," Oestreich said. 

The DMCC board was impressed by Mayo Clinic's Rochester employment increases.

"We're asked all the time about what is going on in Rochester. We may not be doing too much on the brick and mortar, but you're on track," said board member and former Wells Fargo Minnesota CEO Jim Campbell. "You got about 10 percent in a year, which is pretty incredible job growth in the state. You have to be almost at the top."

After the meeting, State Sen. Dave Senjem proudly shared the employment numbers on his Facebook page.

"Quietly done without boasting or fanfare. Pretty amazing, more to come," he wrote.

At the end of his report, Bolton emphasized that Mayo Clinic is growing in Rochester as part of the DMC pact with the state.

"We're extremely bullish," he said. "We're really enjoying the opportunity to partner with the EDA, the city, the county and state in realizing the vision of DMC."


Mayo Clinic employees

in Rochester


• 34,175 - July 2016

• 34,562 - December 2015

• 30,805 - August 2015

• 34,200 - December 2014

• 33,197 - December 2013

• 34,223 - December 2012

• 33,156 - December 2011

• 31,998 - December 2010

• 31,966 - December 2009

 

August 24, 2016

Ex-Michaels restaurant sells for $5.5 million in downtown Rochester

More than a year and a half after one of Rochester's most beloved restaurants closed its massive doors, the prime downtown property has unexpectedly sold for $5.5 million.

The buildings which housed Michaels restaurant at the corner of South Broadway and Center Street for 64 years were purchased by Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors of Illinois on Friday. The sale included four properties — 11, 13, 15 and 17 Broadway.

08242016michaelsOlmsted County estimated the total market value of the properties at $1.17 million, which means it sold for almost five times its estimated value.

Harbor Bay bought the buildings from 15 South Broadway LLC, which is described as a joint venture owned 50-50 by the Chafoulias and the Pappas families. That group bought the property on Jan. 6, 2015, from the Pappas family for $1.4 million, almost a fourth of what it sold for last week.

The high profile 2015 sale and emotional closure of Michaels was described as clearing the way for redeveloping the land and then connecting the new building to Gus Chafoulias' proposed Broadway at Center tower via a skyway across Broadway. Michael Pappas described the plan in late 2014 as involving closing the restaurant, demolishing the buildings and developing a new retail center that would connect with both the Shops at University Square and the planned Broadway at Center project, both Chafoulias properties.

Why change the plan and sell the buildings to an outside developer?

"There are many family members on each side and they felt it was a very fair price and preferred selling to developing the site," wrote Sheila Thoma, spokeswoman for the Chafoulias family's Titan Development and Investments company.

No member of the Pappas family was available for comment on the deal.

Thoma added that Gus Chafoulias still plans to connect whatever is built on the Michaels site to his long-delayed $145 million Broadway at Center on the southeast corner of Broadway Avenue and Center Street. Broadway at Center is the first high-profile project approved by the Destination Medical Center Corp. in 2015 to count toward Rochester's DMC commitment to the state.

"We have an agreement with the group that purchased and they want a skyway as well," she wrote.

Mark Bell and Tom Lund, the partners who run Harbor Bay, were not available for comment on Tuesday, so it is not known what their plans are for the Michaels property. However, the duo already have a housing development under construction in Rochester.

Harbor Bay is the company behind the 211-unit Preserve on Maine apartment complex at 4010 Maine Ave. SE. The developer describes Preserve on Main as "a place where luxurious residences and resort style living meet." Rents for the 17 styles of apartment range from $975 to $1,995 a month.

Chafoulias' Broadway at Center project has been stalled for months awaiting a financing deal to be finalized before starting demolition and construction. In July, Chafoulias announced that his team was terminating its relationship with Saudi Prince Turki Bin Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and Anas Abukhadra, of Minneapolis, because they had failed "to fulfill (their financial) obligations."

The project is still awaiting financing to clear the way for a needed $105 million loan to help finance the 23-story complex.
 
Could this latest deal with Harbor Bay be connected to financing Broadway at Center? Thoma says definitely not. She wrote that the Michaels sale has nothing to do with Broadway at Center other than the proposed skyway link.