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November 18, 2015

After demolition, what next for Ronald McDonald House project?

Rochester's Ronald McDonald House plans to demolish two apartment buildings on Second Street Southwest to make way for a possible future project.

Demolition permits were filed for the apartment buildings at 806 and 812 Second St. SW, just east of the Ronald McDonald House at 850 Second St. SW. The nonprofit McDonald House acquired the buildings in January in conjunction with Mayo Clinic, which is partnering on the deal.

564c8711dd9b4.imageThe 35-year-old Ronald McDonald House provides housing for children and their families who are in Rochester for medical treatment at Mayo Clinic. It can house up to 42 families at one time. In 2014, it served 795 families, but had to turn 1,071 families away.

The facility's last expansion was 11 years ago.

"Our Board of Trustees is committed to serving more families," according to Marit Williams, the Ronald McDonald House's communications and community relations coordinator. However, she would not say if the demolition will make way for a future expansion.

"We are committed to serving more families, and in order to allow us to continue focusing on the best possible way to do that, we do not have any expansion-specific information to share publicly at this time," Williams wrote in response to inquiries. "The land is intended to help us continue providing a home-away-from-home and caring support for more families in the future. There are no commercial development plans."

Whatever the future holds, the next step in the project is to knock down the two 1960s brick apartment complexes. Williams confirmed both buildings now are empty of tenants.

"We do not have a firm date for the demolition, but we expect this activity to happen in early winter," she wrote in a recent email.

Both buildings were officially acquired on Jan. 30. The 812 Second Street Street property was purchased by the Ronald McDonald House in a pair of separate deals for $825,500 and $137,500. 

A similar series of transactions occurred for the 806 Second Street building. The Ronald McDonald House paid the estate of John T. Oliphant estate $890,000 on Jan. 2, 2014.

Mayo Clinic then paid the Ronald McDonald House $1 million for both properties on Jan. 30 of this year, according to Olmsted County Property Record.Both the Ronald McDonald House and Mayo Clinic are listed as owners of both apartment complexes.

November 13, 2015

Rochester's Paper & Graphics has a new owner

A Rochester printing company has a new name on its letterhead, after being purchased by a national firm with deep roots in southeastern Minnesota.

Paper & Graphics, Inc., owned by Tim and Steve Fields, was acquired by St. Paul-based Smyth Cos. on Friday. The 29-year-old print shop owned by the Fields brothers is located at 1116 Ninth Street NE.

Smyth-logoAll seven employees will stay on in Rochester. The name is now Paper & Graphics, a division of Smyth Cos.

"Rochester is a vibrant and growing community and we saw this an opportunity to make some inroads into Rochester," said Smyth owner and director Bill Hickey.

Smyth is certainly familiar with this part of Minnesota. It has two facilities in Austin with about 60 employees. The 138-year-old firm has been printing in Austin, since 1971.

Hickey says the proximity of the Austin and Rochester operations opens up a lot of possibilities for Paper & Graphics.

"It will open up their playbook and add more more products that current customers can buy and attract new customers," he said.

Paper & Graphics will be able to offer multi-color products, packaging and a much larger printing capacity with a quicker turnaround.

It expanded in Austin in 2007, when it built a new 30,800-square-foot facility in the Cook Farm Industrial Park and expanded its other site there. Among other contracts, Smyth prints labels for Hormel Foods in Austin.

Smyth also has locations in Minneapolis, Virginia, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Colorado.

November 11, 2015

Sushi Nishiki goes dark … temporarily?

Rochester sushi fans noticed last week that the door was locked, the knives were put up and the lights were out at Sushi Nishiki.

11112015sushinishiskiHowever, it might not be the end of the Crouching Tiger roll or the Crazy Monkey roll.

A sign in the window says the closure is only temporary.

Word is the business at 2854 41st NW might be closed just as part of a transition to a new owner. However, no one is discussing details of the deal, because the sale is reportedly still being hashed out.

Lawrence Wong and Sammi Loo originally opened Sushi Nishiki in the Northwest Plaza, near IBM's hungry campus, in 2008.
In 2011, they also opened Impiana Kitchen and Sushi Bar at 318 S. Broadway — the former home of Sushi Itto/Katz's. Impiana Kitchen didn't find a niche on Broadway and it closed in 2013. 

Mango Thai
 soon moved into that spot and started cooking.

Insiders say that a similar change in owners is the story behind the Sushi Nishiki closure. I'll keep an eye on this to watch what happens next, because that's the way I roll. Heh.


November 10, 2015

Get ready to Primp

There's a lot of activity on the high-profile corner of 100 First Ave. SW in downtown Rochester.

The shiny signs are up, clothes are going up on racks and the new doors will open soon.

09112015primpPrimp, a popular Twin Cities boutique, is opening its first Med City store on Friday.

Owners Michele Henry and Wesley Uthus announced the opening on Monday.

"We're excited to announce our 7th location, in Rochester, MN, will be open this FRIDAY!… Can't wait to meet you all!," they exclaimed (hence the exclamation marks) on their Facebook page.

Primp carries a full array of women's apparel, from fancy dresses to denim and sweaters. Primp also stocks plenty of accessories, like handbags, jewelry and scarves.

It's tagline is 'Cheap, chic boutique.' Everything is less than $100. Most are items are less than $50.

The news of Primp coming to town broke in early October. It's stepping into the storefront which was the long-time home of the Rochester landmark, O&B Shoes. O&B marched less than a block away to 19 First Ave. SW in August.

"We were looking at a lot of places. But when this space came, we dropped all of the other locations," Henry said at the time. "There is such a great energy in downtown Rochester."

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate Services brokered the deal to bring the brand into the Rochester market.

November 09, 2015

Which Frontage Road restaurant building sold? Not the one you'd think.

While the empty restaurant next door is the one with a "For Sale" sign out front, it's Rochester's northwest Pizza Hut that recently sold for $1 million.

PRN10-PIZZA-HUT-LOGO-1y-4-1-1-1HighThe 29-year-old brick restaurant at 2001 U.S. 52 North Frontage Road was purchased by ERFK LTD of San Antonio, Texas on Oct. 28. It purchased the property, presumably as an investment, from San Antonio, Texas-based Muy Brands.

Given Muy's $168,000 investment in making over the building in early 2014, it seems likely that Pizza Hut will keep cooking there under the new landlord.

Muy Brands, one of the largest Pizza Hut franchisees in the U.S., acquired the three Rochester Pizza Huts as part of the purchase deal with Sky Ventures of Golden Valley. Sky Ventures sold 54 Pizza Huts to Muy at the end of 2013.

The Frontage Road Pizza Hut sold for $986,733. The Pizza Hut that shared a building with Taco Bell at 4000 Marketplace Drive NW closed this summer.

Muy also owns the Pizza Hut location at 840 S Broadway.

Now that this deal is done, it seems a safe bet that the next sale in the area will be right next to Pizza Hut.

The ex-McDonald's restaurant next door to the Frontage Road Pizza Hut has been empty and up for sale, since it moved to the new McDonald's restaurant by Costco, off 19th Street Northwest.

November 04, 2015

What's the skinny on new subway spa?

A well-known Rochester downtown subway business now has more skin in the game with the opening of Total Image Esthetic Center.

Hillary Seltun opened the new medical spa in the Kahler Hotel subway, across the hallway from Hanny's, on Oct. 30. She owns the spa with her husband, Joseph Seltun. They also own the nearby Total Image Hair Salon, which has operated in the subway for more that 50 years.

TemplogoThe Seltuns' skin services out grew the treatment room at Total Image Salon and the Kahler offered them more space as another spa closed and sold off its equipment, said Hillary Seltun.

"It all just came together at the right time," she said. "It just made sense to expand."

The new center offers a full array of skin services including facials, Botox, massage, chemical peels, laser treatment, makeovers, spray tan and a eyelash/eyebrow bar. They also offer bridal packages in conjunction with the Kahler Hotel.

While some other spas in Rochester offer similar services, the Seltuns are comfortable with opening a new competitor.

"I feel like there is more than enough demand. And I think we're a little bit different," Hillary said. "We understand a woman's need to feel good as well as look good."

Being in the subway also may give them an edge.

"I feel like the subway system is kind of like its own a city within a city," she said. 

November 02, 2015

$56 million deal in 'one of our largest markets'

A North Dakota real-estate firm purchased Rochester's Grandeville at Cascade Lake for $56 million today.

Investors Real Estate Trust said this morning that it officially wrapped up the purchase of the 276-unit multifamily community. It announced in August that a purchase agreement for the 8-year-old property had been signed with LeCesse Development Corp. of Florida.

Nav-mobile-website-cascade-lake-rochester-mn-apartments-rent-apt-best_r1_c1Grandville is now IRET's 10th housing property in Rochester.

"We are excited to add GrandeVille to IRET's Rochester portfolio. Its convenient location and substantial amenities enhance the choices we offer to tenants and solidify our presence in Rochester," stated IRET's Vice President of Investments Matt Volpano in a press release this morning.

IRET long has been an active investor in Rochester. It now owns more than 1,300 housing units in 10 properties, including Quarry Ridge, Olympik Village and Sunset Trail.

"Rochester is one of our largest markets," said Volpano previously. "From our standpoint, it continues our strategy. DMC just improves upon an already strong market."

6a00d83451cc8269e201b8d1642d62970c-800wiIRET even is looking into building its own development in Rochester, on land it owns near 41st Street Northwest and West Circle Drive.

Volpano says plans have been drawn up for a potential project. The company is investigating whether it makes financial sense to move forward with it.

Today's deal is the largest real estate sale in Rochester for 2015. It tops the previous largest sale of the year, which also involved IRET.

IRET sold Maplewood Square shopping center in northwest Rochester for $15 million. The center, anchored by Best Buy, Fareway Foods and Ashley Furniture, was purchased by SGO MN Maplewood LLC, of San Mateo, Calif. The sale was part of a larger deal that included 15 IRET commercial properties, which sold for a total of $79 million.

The North Dakota firm previously announced that it is getting out of shopping centers to focus solely on housing properties.

October 28, 2015

New Roch. substation planned for Epic, Mayo Clinic growth

Mayo Clinic's partnership with Epic Systems, the largest electronic medical records firm in the United States, is driving the construction of a new $6.1 million Rochester Public Utilities substation.

Epic_Systems_112109_SignVerona, Wis.-based Epic Systems has been negotiating with RPU since June about the project. Epic says it needs more power capacity in the area to support future growth of the Mayo Clinic Data Center at 4710 West Circle Drive. The new Douglas Trail substation is slated to be built by the data center on land currently owned by Mayo Clinic.

The RPU board approved a "memorandum of understanding" about the project with Epic at its Tuesday night meeting. An escrow account already has been set up to fund project.

The memorandum states, "Due to the planned transfer of selected Mayo Data Center assets to Epic, Epic requests incremental electrical capability and capacity, needed to accommodate projected business growth in forward years…"
Epic has agreed to pay for the majority of the $6.1 million project, with RPU contributing $1.016 million for additional features that Epic doesn't need. The agreement also allows for Epic to apply  Mayo4710technologyparkfor up to $2.03 million in rebates over 10 years. The goal is to have the new substation up and running at least by April 1, 2017.

Rochester attorney Mark Utz spoke to the board as a representative of Epic. He said the deal  "Provides capacity not just for Epic, but a tremendous opportunity for the city of Rochester … to have a third substation in an incredible quadrant for Rochester. This is a win/win for the community, for RPU and for Epic."

Bruce Richards, Epic's director of facilities and engineering, assured the board his company is serious about coming to Rochester.

"This is a long-term situation for us. We're bringing in quite a few people to town," he said. "We'll start out with 80 to 90 people to the data center to work with Mayo Clinic."

Richards told the RPU board the additional capacity is needed for the potential that the current data center could grow to three times its current size.

Mayo Clinic built the $33.7 million, 60,000-square-foot computer support center in 2012. The data center was built to support all three of Mayo Clinic's campuses — Rochester, Jacksonville, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz.

"Epic is expected to take title of the property nominally in December 2015, with site grading to begin in spring 2016, according to the RPU/Epic agreement. The agreement also states that, "It is contemplated that the City of Rochester, for the benefit of RPU, will acquire from Epic the title of the real estate where the substation and related infrastructure will be located.

Richards did not elaborate on what Epic plans to do at Mayo Data Center, though remote hosting medical records is a possibility. In recent years, Epic built a massive data center in Verona, Wis. to offer remote medical record hosting for its clients.

6a00d83451cc8269e201b7c791bc82970b-800wiEpic and Mayo Clinic began working together early this year, when Mayo chose Epic to handle Mayo Clinic's electronic medical records. The relationship is developing into a close collaboration. Mayo's Chief Administration Officer Jeff Bolton has said that Epic has shown "a strong interest" in being part of the planned Discovery Square development in downtown Rochester. Discovery Square is part of Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative.

Epic has about 8,000 employees and had $1.8 billion in revenues in 2014. Epic's software already is used by about 350 health-care organizations that care for 54 percent of U.S. patients.

Mayo Clinic is not Epic's only major partner in northwest Rochester. In May, IBM Watson Health, the health care unit of IBM, announced it has begun working with Epic as well as Mayo Clinic to add the Watson' super computer's cognitive capabilities to electronic health records. It's not clear if IBM is involved in the West Circle Drive data center project.

October 26, 2015

What's Mayo Clinic's plan for its new technology park?

Mayo4710technologyparkMayo Clinic is moving dirt and dividing up some open land by its Rochester data center at 4710 West Circle Dr. N.W.

However, details are sparse about the future of the site.

Mayo Clinic has submitted plans to the city for a "4710 Technology Park," a 22.5 acre tusk-shaped chunk of land north of the 4710 data center building.

The permit says:

 Final Plat #R2015-030PLAT to be known as 4710 Technology Park. The Plat proposes to subdivide three lots and one block for commercial development. The property is located at 4710 West Circle Dr NW.

I started asking Mayo Clinic about this project on Sept. 10. Mayo Clinic has not responded yet.
While no building is drawn on the plat, there are a series of driveways/st 10262015mayo4710techparkreets that curve around a space on Plot 2, that would seem to be designed to provide access to some sort of facility.
Mayo Clinic has certainly shown a lot of interest in that northwest area of the Med City for the past several years.
In 2000, it purchased a facility that Western Digital built at 4001 41st St. N.W.That became the Mayo Support Center, which houses Mayo Clinic's Dept. of Defense Medical Research Office spearheaded by Dr. Barry K. Gilbert.
In 2004, it bought a nearby complex at 3050 Superior Drive from Celestica. That eventually became the Superior Drive Support Center, which houses Mayo Medical Labs.
Mayo Clinic then built the 4710 Building, a data center, in 2012. It stands just north of the Mayo Support Center.
And now it is carving out a 4710 Technology Park by the 4710 Building.
In July, Mayo Clinic bought a nearby former mail processing center at 3939 Valleyhigh Drive. No word yet on how that will be used, though there is speculation that it could become a commercial laundry.


How about owning a Dunkin' Donuts shop?

Want to own a Dunkin' Donuts shop in Rochester?

The Massachusetts doughnut maker is making a major push into Minnesota with 24 new locations planned in the Twin Cities area. But its plans don't end at the metro area's boundaries.

Dunkin' is also looking for a new franchisee to open about five more shops in Rochester.

06232014dunkindonutsRochester Retail Services, a division of the Kahler Hospitality Services hotel group, opened a shop here in June 2014 at 15 First Ave. SW in the Kahler Grand Hotel complex in the heart of downtown. It was the first one in Minnesota since 2005. Dunkin' said then that Rochester Retail Services would be opening five more shops in the next few years.

Dunkin' Donuts Senior Director of Franchising Patrick Cunningham says that plan has now changed.

"Rochester Retail Services, the franchisee of record, will continue to own and operate the existing restaurant in the Kahler. However, they will not develop more Dunkin' stores as we previously reported," he said on Friday. "At this point, (Rochester) is open for more entrepreneurs. We're seeking franchisee candidates for Rochester, Mankato and southern Minnesota." 

Cunningham said he couldn't comment on how sales have been for the Kahler's Dunkin' shop, since it opened last year with 40 employees.

Patrick Short, Kahler Hospitality's managing director of operations, said the Rochester shop is doing well.

"Dunkin sales are steady with visitors to downtown Rochester and to Mayo employees. There are currently 18 employees, but I understand that they are looking for more counter help in the store just like many other businesses in Rochester today," he wrote in response to questions last week.