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October 09, 2015

Cheap chic coming to the heart of the Med City

Cheap chic is coming to the heart of downtown Rochester.

Primp, a popular boutique with six Twin Cities stores, is slated to open a Rochester location in November, before the holidays.

09102015primpsiteCo-owner Michele Henry says the first Primp shop outside of the metro area is moving into the high-profile Peace Plaza space on the corner of 100 First Ave. SW. That's the storefront where O&B Shoes sold footwear until it moved 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. "There is such a great energy in downtown Rochester."

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

Michele Henry and Leslie Uthus launched the first Primp store just five years ago, when they were both 25-years-old. The idea was simple: to offer inexpensive, fun fashion.

"Our whole tagline is 'Cheap, chic boutique.' Everything is under $100. Most are under $50 and we put new things out every day," Henry said.

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.

Moving beyond the Twin Cities is a big step, but Henry and Uthus are very excited about coming to the Med City, Henry said, adding that many Primp customers, as well as employees, have been asking them to come to Rochester for a while.

Now they have a high-profile location in the center of the city. The next step is to prepare the store and hire a team of 10 fashionable employees.


October 08, 2015

Will sale of North Broadway building attract developers?

The sale of a building on Broadway Avenue North clears the way for future development on a prominent block.

08102015MLT1Mike Pruett, co-owner of MLT Groupwhich is in the building, said he sold the 140-year-old brick structure that he owns with his wife, Dawn, at 411 Broadway Ave. N, on Wednesday. Real estate investor Les Nelsonof Clear Lake, Iowa, purchased it for $600,000, Pruett said.

"I'm happy with the price I got," he said. The Pruetts bought the building for $235,000 in 2003.

Nelson now owns most of that side of the 400 block of Broadway. He recently demolished two nearby empty buildings at 401 Broadway Ave. N and 407 Broadway Ave. N to make the area more attractive for developers.  08102015MLT2

After the demolitions, the Pruetts' building stood alone in the middle of the block. Amid the hype of the Destination Medical Center initiative, Rochester real estate prices have skyrocketed in recent months. Pruett's location made his building more valuable, since it is an obstacle that could keep developers away from the block. 

Besides housing the Pruetts' businesses, MLT Group and MLT Video, the building also has four apartments. All four currently have tenants. However, one has a lease until Dec. 31, while the three others are month-to-month.

After the tenant's lease ends in December, Pruett expects Nelson to knock down the building.

He plans to move MLT Group, which he owns with partner Ted St. Mane, and MLT Video to a business condo in the Plaza 14 West center at 4481 North Frontage Road. Pruett hopes to build out the unfinished 11,090-square-foot space and move the businesses at the end of November.

"It will be nice to have a change and a newer facility, though it's a little sad," he said.

Pruett said the new offices should work out well for his team of 10 to 12 employees, because it will have more usable space than the current building.  

October 07, 2015

The 5 top Rochester real estate sales in 2015 so far

• $15 million - Maplewood Square sold on Sept. 29.

Sold_sign• $10 millionMiracle Mile shopping center sold on May 15.

• $7.2 million - The Hampton Inn at 1755 S. Broadway sold on Feb. 6.

• $5.4 million - Former Menards store at 5150 U.S. 52 North sold on March 17.

• $4.5 million - Prosthetic Laboratories center at 121 23 Ave. S.W. sold on Jan. 30. 

Rochester shopping center sells for $15 million

Rochester's largest real-estate sale of the year closed on Sept. 29, when a 25-year-old shopping center sold for $15 million.

Maplewood Square, 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 commercial properties. North Dakota-based Investors Real Estate Trust sold the properties for a total of $79 million.

IretwordpressheaderMaplewood Square was its sole retail property in Rochester. IRET previously announced its plans to divest itself of all of its retail centers to expand its housing portfolio, including a $56 million Rochester deal to acquire Grandeville at Cascade Lake on Second Street Southwest, a 276-unit multifamily community now owned by LeCesse Development Corp. of Florida.

IRET announced in August that it had signed a purchase agreement to acquire Grandeville. Cindy Bradehoft, IRET's director of investor relations, said on Monday the company expects that deal to close soon, possibly within two weeks.

Once IRET takes over ownership of Grandeville, its tally of Rochester units will exceed 1,300. It currently owns more than 1,100 Rochester housing units in nine properties, including Quarry Ridge, Olympik Village and Sunset Trail.

IRET Vice President of Investments Matt Volpano previously said Grandeville, built in 2007, is a good property and could become "a core plus stable asset" for IRET. 

"Rochester is one of our largest markets," Volpano said.

If Grandeville sale does close for $56 million as anticipated, the sale will dwarf the Maplewood Square deal and easily take the title of largest Rochester real-estate sale of 2015.


October 06, 2015

Rochester co-op manager moves up to CEO job

People’s Food Co-op has named the Rochester store manager Lizzy Haywood to serve as the organization's CEO and general manager.

Haywood, who has led the Rochester store since it opened in 2013, took over the role on Sept. 28. She is now based in La Crosse, Wis. at the People's Food Co-op headquarters and original store. 

115840_7644_339_lizzy_haywood"The Rochester store manager position has been posted and we are accepting applications," said People's Marketing Director Ann Mull on Tuesday.

Haywood had been serving as interim CEO and general manager since Aug.19, when the previous CEO Michelle Schry resigned to take another job. Prior to coming to Rochester, she was the general manager at the Bluff County Co-op in Winona.

The People's Food Co-op in La Crosse merged with Rochester's Good Food Store in 2011. The organization then moved the cooperative into downtown Rochester.  The almost 27,000 square-foot People's Food Co-op opened on the main level of Rochester's Metropolitan Market Place complex at 519 First Ave. SW in 2013. 

The La Crosse organization is one of the 25 largest food cooperatives in the U.S. It has more than 8,000 member families in Rochester and La Crosse and annual revenues of $25 million.

October 01, 2015

A Mayo Clinic linked firm working with DMC planner to develop new Madison biosciences hub

A firm with deep ties to Mayo Clinic is making a move to anchor a downtown Madison, Wis., biosciences hub with help from the development manager of Rochester's Destination Medical Center initiative.

Exact Sciences Corp. licensed technology from Mayo Clinic in 2009 and 2012 for Cologuard, a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer. The test is based on research by Mayo Clinic's Dr. David A. Ahlquist and his laboratory.

LogoOriginally based in Boston, city officials at one point hoped Exact would move to Rochester. However, Madison gave the company $1 million to move its headquarters there in 2009.

Since then, the company has flourished, and now it's planning to build a new $200 million, 250,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Madison with $46.7 million in financial aid from the city.The Madison City Council recently OKed the deal, which requires that Exact will have 400 employees in the building by 2019.

The developer of the project is JDS Development LLC, which is a joint venture between Hammes Co. and Majestic Realty. Hammes is the Wisconsin consultant that is in charge of DMC. It also is working directly with Mayo Clinic on the Discovery Square portion of the DMC project. Hammes also has been hired by the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau to do a feasibility study for the proposed hockey arena to house a possible US Hockey League team here.

Hammesco_blue_logoHammes' Exact development will include a 250 room hotel, a food court, health and wellness facility, conference and media centers and lots of room for retail and restaurants.

Exact CEO Kevin Conroy told the Madison City Council that, "We hope that by having a life science company headquarters in downtown Madison, it will spur economic development throughout the region and have a positive impact on downtown."

September 18, 2015

A southeast Asia flavor is cooking in northwest Rochester

A new flavor is simmering in northwest Rochester.

Sophan Thuo is getting ready to open Sonniya's Cambodian Cuisine at 4180 18th Ave. NW in front of the Cedarwood Plaza shopping center. 

11942152_1492082094419055_3725039047799146419_oRochester's growing diversity has brought the food of many cultures, such as Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Ethiopian, Mexican and others to the Med City. While Cambodian has been part of some recent Rochester menus, Thuo's is completely devoted to the food of the southeast Asian country.

"I have been a server for others for many years. I love the job working with food. I love to do what I do," said Thuo. "Now I want to introduce my type of food to Rochester."

Cambodian food is known for its sauces and curries. Like many Asian cuisines, it uses rice and noodles in many dishes, but with a different spin on them.

Thuo said one popular Cambodian dish that Sonniya's Cambodian Cuisine will spotlight is Lort Cha, which it uses rice noodles.

She has the sign up on her new place and hopes to open yet this month. Thuo expects to have about 10 on staff.

The 18th Avenue building has housed a variety of flavors in recent years. Sok Dee, a Thai eatery, closed in August. Before that, it housed Far East Fusion, John Hardy's Bar-B-Q and Roscoe's Root Beer & Ribs.

Andrew “AJ” Hawkins of the commercial real estate firm of Realty Growth Inc. handled the deal that brought Sonniya's Cambodian Cuisine into the site. 

September 17, 2015

Cocktails on the way at Mac's Restaurant

Diners at a popular Rochester eatery will soon find something new on the menu - cocktails.

Mac's Cafe and Restaurant, which has been cooking for more than 60 years on the Peace Plaza, recently was given a full liquor license. That means it can add mixed drinks to the beer and wine it already offers.

5177285Owner George Psomas says this addition is all about offering more choices, not changing the restaurant's family-friendly atmosphere.

"We're not going to be bar. We're just adding a few high-end drinks," he said. "The people have been calling for it. We're just giving the people what they want."

Expect the selections to reflect Mac's Greek heritage. Instead of a Bloody Mary, they plan to serve a Bloody Athena.

Adding cocktails to the mix is one of a few recent update for Mac's. It's Peace Plaza exterior received an extensive face-lift this summer. Plus he rolled out a new Mac's food truck, which has been making the rounds at Rochester events.

Psomas says he's fine-tuning a new offering for the food truck menu, but he's keeping the details of the new cultural combination under wraps until it's ready.

"It's going to be amazing. People that have tried it love it," he said.

September 15, 2015

High-profile 2nd Street property sold for residence

After years of being up for sale, a long-time Second Street Southwest business recently sold for $272,000.

On Sept. 1, Dick Saterdalen sold the 64-year-old house at 2120 Second St. S.W. where he lives and operates Dick's Auto Sales. He also previously ran the Liquidation Store at the site. He sold the property to Abdullah M. Aljaberi, according Olmsted County property records.
Saterdalen says he will continue to run Dick's Auto Sales at the site until Dec. 1, when he will move the operation to a small farm on Rochester's Viola Road.

Aljaberi is reportedly planning to renovate the house and use it as a residence, according to Saterdalen.

That Second Street house/storefront was in the news in 2013, when the City of Rochester began its $7 million re-construction of the area now dubbed as "Uptown." When a new median was built in front of the property, the 24-year-old business lost its direct left-turn access as well as on-street parking spaces.

Saterdalen complained that the Uptown project killed a deal he had with a bank that wanted to buy his property.  He also protested the assessment that the city charged him for the project.

Overall, Saterdalen blamed Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center Initiative for forcing his old-fashioned business/residence off of Second Street.

September 14, 2015

Firm settling into new offices along West Circle Drive

An engineering and architecture firm settled into its newly renovated digs in northwest Rochester last week.

Crookston-based Widseth Smith Nolting officially moved into the former Home Design Studio at 3777 40th Ave. NW on Thursday. WSN opened a Rochester site in 2009, which has grown into one of the largest of its seven offices in Minnesota and North Dakota. It now houses a staff of 21.

7f0e237b3c81468f9c2209c9df28e638It moved from a 4,500-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road NW.

To accommodate its rapidly expanding needs, WSN purchased the 32,000-square-foot complex on West Circle Drive for $1.6 million in February.

"We looked at lot of different buildings all around the city. We really like this building," said Brian Carlson, WSN's director of business development in Rochester, earlier this year. "We liked the exposure. We liked the location and the ability to have our whole team in one spot."

WSN, which merged with Rochester's Kane and Johnson Architects in 2014, has been renovating the building for several months.

In addition to creating offices and conference rooms for its staff, WSN has carved out parts of the building for commercial tenants. Many prospective tenants are seriously considering leasing the space, but none have been announced yet.

This project has breathed new life into the unique nine-year-old building along West Circle Drive.

It was designed by Kane and Johnson Architects as a home builders' showroom with model kitchens, bathrooms and other room layouts. Spearheaded by local contractor Jerome Bigelow, a group of 13 owners optimistically launched the operation with a grand party attended by hundreds of Rochester business leaders. It had 59 people on staff working for a variety of construction-related businesses. The last occupants moved out in April 2012.

Event Studio LLC, of Rochester, then bought the complex from Partnership 10, of Byron, in 2013 for $1.3 million.