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13 posts from October 2013

October 29, 2013

Something new at The Old Rooster

After being in business for 28 years, something new will happen at a Rochester store that specializes in old things.

The Old Rooster Antique Mall at 106 N. Broadway will get a new owner on Friday, when Ron Ruport takes the reins of the business.

OldroosterRuport, who's a part owner of Mantorville Square Antiques in Mantorville, is buying The Old Rooster from Gordy and Virginia "Granny" Kranz.

The Kranzes opened the mall there in 1985. Prior to that, they owned antique malls in Mazeppa and other spots in Rochester's downtown. The Old Rooster name originated when the couple ran an antique mall in the former Richard's Roost restaurant building on First Street Southwest.

"I've known Gordy and Granny for a long time," says Ruport of how he came to buy the mall. "This mall gets good traffic, especially from Mayo Clinic patients."

The mall currently has 12 dealers with two more on their way. Ruport says that will still leave room for a couple more dealers.

While he has no big changes on the way, the new owner plans to freshen up the mall with touches like new paint. The major innovation he is bringing in is the capability to accept credit cards.

One thing won't change much and that's the Kranzes. While they won't be the mall owners, they aren't retiring, says Gordy Kranz. He and his wife will remain on as dealers in the mall.

Kranz, a retired Rochester police officer, says the many years running The Old Rooster have been good ones.

"We've got good dealers that price items fairly. We don't have any hot shots," he says. "It's been interesting. People come in, look around and find something they are looking for. Then they're happy. If they don't find anything, they still had fun looking and it didn't cost them anything."

October 25, 2013

Roch. Feed and Seed to plant 2nd store

Rochester Feed and Seed plans to fill a need by opening a second store here.

Netta Putzier and Bob Kopplin, who co-own the popular pet food and country living store at the corner of South Broadway and U.S. 14., doubled their presence by opening another Rochester Feed and Seed at 3155 Wellner Dr. N.E. That puts them across East Circle Drive from the Paragon Chateau 14 movie theater.

Rochfeedseed"Customers have been asking when we're opening a store on the north side of town for a while, so now we are," said Putzier. "There are a lot of people in that area who own companion animals."

Painting and construction already are underway, and she hopes to open the new 2,800-square-foot store by mid-November.

"The colors are great there. We're very excited about this," she said.

She expects to add three or four more employees to handle staffing for the second store. The original store in southeast Rochester has 10 on staff.

The store will carry an array of pet foods, accessories, bird seed for feeders and more. In an effort to control quality, Rochester Feed and Seed stocks products made in the U.S., whenever possible.

"People are very protective of their pets. They are members of the family these days," she said.

While the new, smaller shop will have the same focus as its older sibling, Putzier said it won't carry the clothing lines nor will it offer pet grooming services provided at the other site.

In 2008, Rochester Feed and Seed relocated from Marion Road to the spot at the corner of South Broadway and U.S. 14. That proved to be a very good move for the store.

"The people of Rochester are great. They buy local and support stores like ours," said Putzier. "You treat them right and they keep coming back."

October 22, 2013

New store adds up to rare triple play on Historic Third

Lisa Ihrke's latest project is one for the record books, because she has pulled off a rare retail triple play and she's done it on Rochester's Historic Third Street.

Exquisite Leather, Luggage and Furs
is the latest local venture to stake out space on downtown's increasingly hot Historic Third St

Ihrke's new shop opened its doors last week in the 1,600-square-foot space at 20 Third St. S.W., last occupied by The Nordic Gypsy. Exquisite Leather is a women's boutique featuring clothing, jewelry, purses, luggage as well as leather and fur coats.

A grand opening featuring live music, refreshments, secret sales and more is scheduled for Nov.16.

This new location joins Ihrke's two other Exquisite stores in downtown — the original in the Kahler Grand Hotel subway and a Peace Plaza one that opened in June at 100 1st Ave. S.W. General Manager Lynne Riley handles the day-to-day operations of all three.

"I've needed more room for sometime. There's enough business for all three stores," she said.

Having double the floor space in the Historic Third Street store versus the 750-square-foot spaces of her other shops means this store can carry home decor as well as more lines of gifts and cards. The other stores will focus more on the clothing and accessories lines.

She also cites Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative as a driving reason she's working to create a larger footprint in Rochester's rapidly evolving downtown.

The store is based on the street level of the same building that houses the new speakeasy-style basement bar, The Doggery. Ihrke said the addition of The Doggery to the mix of popular restaurants, bars and stores on the short street is really ramping up the foot traffic.

Unlike her subway location, Ihrke plans to offer expanded hours at her Third Street shop by being open most nights and on the weekends.

To staff the trio of stores, Ihrke said she and Riley have been on "a hiring rampage" to bring her team up to a total of 12 employees.

October 18, 2013

Mayo Clinic decides to keep employee classifieds

Following an outcry from employees, Mayo Clinic has reversed its plans and now will keep its popular internal classified ad listings alive.

"In response to employee feedback, Mayo Clinic will launch a new, more efficient employee classifieds system on Monday, Nov. 4. The new system will be available at all locations across the institution," said Mayo spokesman Bryan Anderson.

Mayo-clinic-rochester-minnesotaMayo Clinic announced in September that it would pull the plug on its internal classified ad listings on Oct. 30, but that announcement spurred an outcry from fans of the classifieds.  
Employees have long been able to post free ads that would be seen only by other Mayo Clinic employees. The print version of the free classifieds were discontinued several years ago, but the classifieds continued to thrive on the clinic's intranet.

The Mayo ads were known as a place to find a good buy. The housing classifieds, particularly apartment or house rental ads, also were popular with Mayo Clinic's mobile workforce.

Anderson said the original decision to end them was made because the classifieds were not "a strategic imperative" and Mayo employees could use other free classifieds online.

After employees responded that they wanted to keep the classifieds, Mayo Clinic looked at its options to handle the service in "a less resource-intense way" than in the past, according to Anderson.

"The new system will be more technically sustainable and will include a large selection of categories, including ride share and research studies, to support work-related needs," he said.

October 17, 2013

Psychiatric group building new home in NW Rochester

A counseling and psychiatric services group has gotten too big to comfortably fit in its downtown offices, so it's building a new home in northwest Rochester.

Associates in Psychiatry and Psychology, which provides a variety of mental health services, recently broke ground at 3101 Superior Dr. N.W. for a new 6,000-square-foot complex.

1175661_10151831234552112_815316105_nThat puts it behind Mayo Clinic's Superior Drive Support Center at 3050 Superior Drive N.W.

"Over the years, we have outgrown our space," said Bonita Patton, who owns and manages the care group. She hopes to have the new facility up and ready to use.

APP has long been based in the Ironwood Square Building at 300 Third Ave. S.E. While Ironwood Square has been a good location, Patton said she is looking forward to having more parking as well as more space with the new place.

APP has 10 on staff in the Rochester office and it will have room for 14 providers in the new building. APP also has offices in Wabasha, Faribault and Owatonna.

Some of the additional space is slated for a two-bed sleep study clinic. The sleep clinic will allow APP to add diagnosing and treating sleep disorders to its services.

IBM's Watson + Cleve Clinic and Mayo + Optum

Improving healthcare is an ongoing project, particularly here in Rochester.

Here are a couple locally linked tidbits I came across this week about efforts that are using technology to attack this issue.

IBM-Watson-Jeopardy-500x285First, everyone remembers IBM's Jeopardy-playing supercomputer Watson. Much of its development occured here in Rochester. I remember the UMR hosting a big viewing session for local business leaders and Mayo Clinic execs, so everyone could watch the celebrity computer answer Alex Trebec.

These days Watson is specializing in helping doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. They announced some developments this week.
Ibm-watson-david-ferrucci-2IBM Research unveiled two new Watson-related cognitive technologies that are expected to help physicians make more informed and accurate decisions faster and to cull new insights from electronic medical records (EMR).

The projects known as "WatsonPaths" and "Watson EMR Assistant" are the result of a year-long research collaboration with fa culty, physicians and students at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. Both are key projects that will create technologies that can be leveraged by Watson to advance the technology in the domain of medicine.

• WatsonPaths explores a complex scenario and draws conclusions much like people do in real life. When presented with a medical case, WatsonPaths extracts statements based on the knowledge it has learned as a result of being trained by medical doctors and from medical literature.

WatsonPaths can use Watson's question-answering abilities to examine the scenario from many angles. The system w Watson2orks its way through chains of evidence -- pulling from reference materials, clinical guidelines and medical journals in real-time -- and draws inferences to support or refute a set of hypotheses. This ability to map medical evidence allows medical professionals to consider new factors that may help them to create additional differential diagnosis and treatment options.


Of course, Mayo Clinic's involved in many projects to improve medical treatments and healthcare in general.

One such project is the "strategic research alliance" Mayo Clinic formed in January with OptumHealth, a technology and consulting division of the Minnetonka, Minn.-based health insurer UnitedHealth Group.

Together they launched Optum Labs in Cambridge, Mass. Optum Labs CEO Paul Bleicher spoke about what they are doing at a conference this week.

Mayo_optum_690Optum Labs will use claims and clinical data to answer pressing health questions. It will use a database that includes 149 million patient records from UNH, electronic medical records covering 5 million lives from Mayo Clinic, and 12 million electronic medical records from Humedica.

Speaking at the recent StrataRx conference in Boston, Optum Labs CEO Paul Bleicher, M.D., Ph.D., said Cambridge, Mass.-based Optum will use advanced analytics and data visualization techniques to support research and innovation projects that will improve patient care and lower cost.

The new partnership of Mayo Clinic and OptumHealth also represents a source of new opportunities for healthcare entrepreneurs, said Bleicher, who expects new health IT companies to emerge from this effort. "That is one of the goals," Bleicher said. "We want to develop technologies and innovations that could be spun off into companies, in collaboration with venture capitalists."

He said Optum Labs is actively seeking other partners and "accepting applications from anybody doing research who is willing to do so with complete transparency, in a non-commercial fashion." The mission is "very public, publication research that will advance the cause of healthcare and anyone who participates." Influencing healthcare policymakers is also one of the goals, he said.

ViewMediaAnother priority of Optum Labs is enlisting "new partners who will bring additional data of high value," Bleicher said. "We want other payers - and everybody - to be in the tent, because if all of the data is in one place, there is opportunity to dive deep into it." It will also be important that "the findings don't stay stuck in 'silos' but are distributed widely, so they become valuable for more than just a few organizations."

The cost of some of the projects Optum Labs undertakes could be shared by National Institutes of Health grants or by partnering with life sciences or IT companies, Bleicher added.

Mark Hayward, administrator of Mayo Clinic's Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, said there will be "information technology that will come out of our labs that will spin off new technologies and methodologies."

October 16, 2013

First Alliance to open new Roch. branch on 55th Street

First Alliance Credit Union hopes to open a new Rochester branch at 3900 55th St. N.W. in early 2014.

The Rochester credit union is leasing the 700-square-foot space aNew1stalliancebranch10162013nd plans to have three employees based there. It shares the building with the local Veteran's Affairs clinic. 

This will be First Alliance's fourth Rochester branch, including a small one-person office in the Kemps' facility on North Broadway. First Alliance also has a branch in Byron.

"This is a great opportunity to get our footprint in the market on 55th Street," said Mark Hettinger, First Alliance's chief operations officer. "A sizable percentage of our members live in the northwest area."

First Alliance is moving into a space last leased by Home Federal Savings Bank, which moved out last spring. Home Federal originally built the 9,800-square-foot facility in 2002. The Rochester bank sold the building to Les Nelson, of Clear Lake, Iowa, in 2009 for more than $2 million.

With the rise in online banking and direct deposit, today's customers don't go to branches to deposit paychecks or make withdrawals like previous generations did. However, customers do still like to deal with a person for some transactions, particularly for things like loans and mortgages.

"Branches are smaller now and really need to be strategically positioned," he said. The branch manager for the new branch also will be a loan officer.

That's why First Alliance is opening this branch on 55th Street, while it also owns land on 41st Street Northwest. Hettinger plans to watch the 55th Street location to help First Alliance gauge how to best use the 41st Street property.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, the credit union also is building a new full-service ATM site just off of 48th Street Southeast in Rochester's Shoppes on Maine development. It's being built near the big monument sign at the entrance to the commercial area.

Grading and ground work has begun there and Hettinger hopes to have the ATM site up and running by the end of November.

October 10, 2013

Associated Bank pays out $13 million, locally moves mortgage office

Here's a couple news tidbits about Associated Bank this week. One's a national deal and the other's about the downtown Rochester Associated branch:

As part of a $13 million lawsuit settlement, affected Associated Bank customers received automatic payments deposited into their accounts on Wednesday.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I received a settlement payment of $7.64 from Associated on Wednesday.

Qualified recipients, who are no longer Associated Bank customers, will receive a check by mail.

Customers did not need to file a claim to receive a payment. The payments were assigned automatically to customers who were improperly charged overdraft fees from 2004 and 2012.

While admitting no liability, the Wisconsin-based bank agreed to pay $13 million  to settle a class action lawsuit that accuses the bank of manipulating checking-account overdraft fees.

Green Bay, Wis.,-based Associated has 270 offices in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, including five branches in Rochester.

Closer to home, Associated Bank moved its mortgage personnel this week from the the second floor of its downtown branch to the main level. I believe that leaves that level empty or almost empty. That's interesting given the recent sale of that building.

associatedmortgageofficeBloom International Realty recently paid $7.7 million to three ownership groups for their portions of the Associated Bank Building at 206 S. Broadway.

On Sept. 16, Bloom paid $4 million to Associated Bank, which owned three floors. Local real estate investors Dave Bahr and Dr. Fred Carlson received $2.7 million for the three floors they owned. R & A Partnership, a group that includes some principals of the Dunlap & Seeger law firm, were paid $1 million for the fifth floor. The firm has offices on that floor as well as some on the fourth floor.

The tenants, which include the bank, the Dunlap & Seeger law firm, Exhibitor Magazine Group, Mayo Clinic, Cardon Outreach, the O'Brien & Wolf law firm, Minnesota Public Radio and others, were told they need to vacate the building at least by 2015.

October 08, 2013

IBM leases Rochester buildings to Charter

IBM is leasing two buildings on its Rochester campus to the cable-television provider Charter Communications.

Both companies confirmed Monday that a lease agreement has been signed. After some retrofitting, Charter is slated to move into the 333 and 002 Buildings on the IBM campus along U.S. 52 North.

"We will maintain our current locations in the Rochester community, located at 3993 Heritage Place N.W., as well as the local call center, which is located at 5720 Bandel Road N.W.," she said.

IBM333She declined to provide further details.

A permit for interior demolition work  in the 002 Building, filed by Benike Construction of Rochester, specified that the work is being done for a "future Charter Business" office. Charter Business is the division of the cable company that sells Internet and telephone services directly to businesses.

The 002 Building was the home of IBM's blood donation center on the main level with offices on the second.

IBM confirmed the lease agreement but declined to provide other details. Spokeswoman Mary Welder did point out that leasing unused space on the campus was not something new for Big Blue.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies has leased space there since IBM sold its hard-disk drive unit to Hitachi in 2003 for $2.05 billion. It's located on the west end of IBM's campus.

The 333 Building is located farther west than the 114 Building. It's near the power plant and utilities area. That two-story building is primarily an open warehouse/industrial space with a mezzaine level.

IBM's sprawling presence in Rochester has shrunk in recent years due to a series of layoffs and a shift of its local manufacturing operations overseas.

The technology giant closely guards the secret of how many employees work here or at any other individual site. During much of its history in Rochester, IBM would report its local workforce numbers at the end of every year. The last annual IBM workforce count was on Dec. 31, 2008, when the company reported that it had 4,200 employees in Rochester. Unofficial estimates place today's employment at 3,000 or less.

In April,  IBM moved its final employees out of the last 100,000-square-foot space it had leased in the "White Buildings", also known as the 41st Street Professional Campus. The 435,000-square-foot 41st Street campus, which is near IBM's main site, was originally built to house Big Blue's employees, but they were no longer needed as IBM's employee count shrunk.

October 07, 2013

Roch.'s new DSW announces opening date

My intrepid and ever-alert co-worker Mike Klein laced up the opening date of the Designer Shoe Warehouse in today's PB.
Good news for shoe shoppers — Rochester's Designer Shoe Warehouse store is opening on Thursday, the company has announced.

10072013dsw1It's in the 22,000-square-foot former Old Navy store at 50 25th St. S.E., and construction is wrapping up this week.

DSW — Designer Shoe Warehouse — sells designer shoes, boots and sandals at value prices, as well as handbags and accessories. It also runs a popular loyalty program called DSW Rewards that issues certificates to customers for future purchases.

07102013dswopeningsignColumbus, Ohio-based DSW operates 389 stores in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

In November 2011, Old Navy moved out of its 22,000-square-foot store at 50 25th St. S.E. between Bed Bath and Beyond and Michaels craft store. It moved farther south to a new spot between Dick's Sporting Goods and Maurice's in the Shoppes on Maine retail cluster.

"Of late, DSW has been extensively using its cash flow to expand throughout the United States," said the analyst blog. "We believe that the company’s aggressive store expansion plans signify that its designer shoes and accessories are fast gaining popularity among consumers."

Recently, DSW reported second-quarter fiscal 2013 results. Earnings increased 47 percent to 97 cents a share and net sales jumped 9.7% to $562 million, whereas comparable-store sales rose 4.4%.