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September 14, 2014

Fire destroys Byron home

A Byron neighborhood was lit up with flames Friday night as a house was completely engulfed with fire.

ByronhousefireThe house at 716 4th Avenue Northwest was empty at the time of the blaze a little after midnight. Records show the house is owned by Michele and Todd Borchardt.

By the time the sun rose on Saturday, the house was burnt out shell with a collapsed roof.

Neighbor Denyse Woodwick called 911 and reported the fire a little after midnight, according to another neighbor Chris Douglas. She had stepped outside to look for her cat and had noticed the glow of flames over the trees. Her boyfriend ran to the house and found flames shooting out all of the windows on both levels and the walk-out basement.

He awoke the neighbors on either side of the burning house and they began hosing the sides of their homes with water to prevent the fire from spreading.

Douglas says the blaze was incredibly hot. Since no one could enter the house, there was concern that someone might be in the house. One car was in the driveway, but other neighbors said there usually were more vehicles there. Eventually, it was determined that no one was home.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The fire photo was taken by Chris Douglas of Byron.

September 11, 2014

Nu On U to close its doors to pursue new opportunities

After a four year run on North Broadway, a women's clothing resale store called Nu On U is preparing to close up shop as its owner takes on new projects.

48006_153372731356200_2669327_n"We're going to be sorry to say good-bye to Rochester. Business has gone well. It has been a terrific location," said Donna Gates, who has helped her daughter Kisa Bisek run the 1,600-square-foot storefront in the Dison Cleaners Center at 200 N. Broadway.

For Med City old timers, that's the spot that previously housed Wireless Toyz and Hobbit Travel back before that.

They have launched a "going out of business" sale. Gates says they plan on selling everything, including many of the store fixtures and mannequins.

Unlike when many stores close, this closure is not about slow sales. The resale shop was Bisek's brainchild and now she's ready for something new.

"My daughter is being offered other business opportunities, so it's time to shut this down," Gates said.

Nu On U was at the forefront of the surge in resale and consignment stores in Rochester, when it opened in August 2010. It purchases gently used girl's and women's clothing, shoes and accessories with the intent to resell them. By listening to its customers over the years, the store earned a loyal following.

When announcing the closing, Nu On U encouraged its regulars to patronize other similar Rochester shops like Kismet, Refashion, Danielle's Consignment Boutique and Size It Up.

September 10, 2014

Workers at Lakeside Foods to lose jobs when Hormel ends contract

PLAINVIEW — About half of the year-round workers at Lakeside Foods workers learned last week that their jobs at Plainview's largest employer will be ending soon, as Austin's Hormel Foods pulls its contract with the plant.

4965162612_d023537c6b_oWhile the Manitowoc, Wis.-based Lakeside isn't releasing the number of jobs being cut, insiders are estimating that between 75 and 90 workers will lose their jobs when Hormel Foods pulls its production contract at the 650,000-square-foot plant.

Lakeside executives have previously said the Plainview plant employs about 80 full-time people, plus about 85 others that work solely on the Hormel contract. The Hormel contract with Lakeside to produce its Top Shelf products was a year-round contract.

Hormel says it plans to move that production to other facilities by late fall.

“This was a difficult decision to make, but moving the operations to other facilities within our company will provide greater production, purchasing and distribution efficiencies," said Donald J. Temperley, Hormel's vice president of Grocery Products operations, in a message this morning.

When the plant is packing seasonal vegetables, Lakeside's employment swells to a temporary peak of about 270 workers, who work 60 to 70 hours a week to get the fresh vegetables canned and frozen.

Plainview Economic Development Director Judith O. Jordan said when the community's largest employer loses such a major contract and needs to cut positions, it's a serious situation.

"We are all concerned about how this impacts Plainview. We hope Lakeside will be able to identify a new co-packer to work with to replace the Hormel production," she said.

The Lakeside Foods facility in Plainview is just one of eleven food processing plant in the Lakeside system. The Plainview facility is also one of six distribution facilities.

September 09, 2014

114-year-old family farm sells for $1.85 million in NW Roch

Since the city of Rochester surrounded his family's 114-year-old farm, developers and real estate agents have regularly talked to Jim Till about selling his island of prime real estate on 19th Street Northwest.

After years of turning down offers, Till sold the remaining 28 acres of his family farm to Jack Remick for $1.85 million last week. Remick also owns Rochester Athletic Club across the road from the farm.

540f1b17a71bf.image"You look back, you hate to leave, but you've got to go sometime," said Till of selling the farm that he has lived on for all of his 61 years. "It's just time to hang it up."

Remick calls the purchase an investment at this point.

"It's a nice piece of property. I don't really have any specific plan for it," he said. "Some of it is across from the club, and some is across from Lourdes (the high school built on land he donated). I would be very interested in what goes in out there."

Till has six months before he needs to move out. He plans to move to his other farm, outside of Byron. He'll continue to farm more than 300 acres with his brother, Charles Till.

Till bought the farm from his mother, Leone Till, in 2006. The house on the farm, which has been expanded and remodeled several times over the years, was originally built in 1900. Till's grandparents lived there. The family has photos of his father, who was born in 1910, as a baby in front of the house. Jim Till grew up on the farm with his eight sisters and his brother.

The family milked cows and raised fields of corn and alfalfa on their farm and on nearby leased fields. In the 1980s, the brothers each bought farms near Byron.

While the Till farm was originally outside of the city, development slowly encircled it.

West Circle Drive started bringing a lot more activity to the area. Manufacturers such as Crenlo and Pemstar/Benchmark built there. Mayo Clinic expanded into that part of the city. The leased fields on the corner of 19th Street and West Circle Drive, where the Tills grew alfalfa for their cattle, was shaped into a commercial development by Kwik Trip for Costco and other businesses.

"For a long time, there wasn't a lot of traffic. Now, it's just traffic all of the time," said Till.

After Costco went in, he moved the dairy cattle to his Byron farm, which means he has been spending a lot of time on the road going between the two farms.

"The only ones profiting were the gas companies and tire companies. It has been a lot of hassle," he said.

The surge in activity in the area also brought crime. Till has been burglarized a number of times in recent years, which prompted him to install gates and move many things to the Byron farm. He then had a stroke about four years ago, which slowed him down.

"I always said I'd sell when the offer was enough to laugh all the way to the bank," he said. "Well, it was just time to sell, though I'm not laughing too hard."

September 05, 2014

RAEDI brings on Holmes to fill new marketing position

Preparing for the rollout of its regional five-year plan, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. has hired Heather Holmes to fill a new marketing position.

RAEDI announced the hiring of Holmes as vice president of marketing this week. Holmes, a long-time Rochester marketing professional, will start the new job on Sept. 15.

RAEDI President Gary Smith explained that his board decided to create the new marketing position to help with the introduction of the Journey To Growth economic plan that RAEDI and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce have been working on for the past year.
10654081_10204675785082933_99753887_n
A steering committee of 26 business leaders from Olmsted, Dodge and Wabasha counties has been working on the $150,000 project. The plan, which reaches beyond Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center intitiative into the region beyond Rochester, focuses on three major themes:  expanding and diversifying the economy, optimizing the regional talent base and developing a more cohesive and connected region.

Smith anticipates that the plan should be completed in the next few months, and said that Holmes will help introduce it to the area when it's ready.

"For the past couple of months, we've been doing a national and local search to fill this job," he said. "Heather's a good choice, because she knows who we are and believes in what we're doing."

Holmes comes to RAEDI from the Rochester software firm, Metafile. She also worked in marketing for KAAL-ABC 6 and Corporate Web Services.

"It is an exciting time for our great city, and I'm thrilled to have a front row seat. I can't wait to get started," Holmes said about her new role.

September 04, 2014

Pending real estate deal spurs flower shop move

Flowers By Jerry will soon move its Third Avenue shop because a pending real estate deal could change scenery on the high-profile Rochester corner.

04092014flowersbyjerrybuckeyeOwner Kevin Patton says the sale of his building at 410 Third Ave. S.E. is in the works along with the adjacent Buckeye Liquor building, which he also owns. Robert and Diane Satterwhite own Buckeye and lease the building from Patton.

Patton is shifting his business offices and the floral design from the Third Street shop to Flowers By Jerry's other location by Silver Lake. That change could happen by the end of this month.

"We're consolidating that part of the business, but we're also branching out," said Patton said.

Patton is opening another store, Flowers By Jerry Lux Floral Boutique, in the TJ Maxx Plaza in southwest Rochester to replace the Third Street location. As the different name would suggest, this new location will be a new take of the standard flower shop.

Patton describes it as mix of a floral store with a women's clothing boutique with clothing, jewelery and home decor.

The floral boutique will be located just outside the entrance of TJ Maxx. Flowers By Jerry will move into the 2,500-square-foot space left open by Fox Nails' recent move to a new spot on the other side of the atrium.

If everything goes as planned, it's expected to be ready to open by the start of November, if not sooner. With all of the changes, Patton anticipates he may eventually need to add a new part-time position or two to his current staff of about 20.

While all of these plans are moving forward, details about what will happen on the corner of Third Avenue and Fourth Street are scarce at this point. The sale of the Flowers By Jerry and Buckeye Liquors buildings could close by the end of this month. However, Patton isn't discussing the buyer or any other details until it officially wraps up.

Given that corner's proximity to downtown and the Olmsted County Government/Rochester City Hall, some are speculating that the purchase of those two buildings is a sign that a developer wants to build a new commercial center, restaurant or hotel.

New Scheels store shaping up

Lots of activity at the new Scheels All Sports mega-store site at Rochester's Apache Mall this balmy "fall" morning.

04092014scheelsConstruction and partial demolition of the former Sears store site has been rolling along all through the summer on this new sprawling addition to the Med City's sporting goods offering.

Fargo, N.D.-based Scheels estimates that it will be ready to open in early April 2015. The planned 140,000-square foot store will be larger than the 120,000-square-foot Scheels in Mankato.

It is expected to add between 120 to 180 new jobs toScheelsmap2 Rochester.

In addition to sporting goods, its features will include a fudge and coffee bar and a mini bowling alley.

The development for the expanded store also includes Apache Mall adding 9,000-square-foot restaurant site on the east side of the city water tower. 

There's no word yet on what restaurant might be planned for that site.

August 25, 2014

Re/Max Results realty zeros in on new Rochester 'home'


After months and months of "house" hunting, a large real estate office seems to have found a new home in Rochester.

Remax_exterior-2Re/Max Results, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based business with more than 60 Realtors based in Rochester, has been shopping for either a building or a spot to build one here to replace its office complex at 4600 18th Ave. N.W. for quite a while. Various deals, including one for a commercial complex, were rumored at various times to be close to happening.

While the organization has not confirmed its plans yet, an application for a building permit last week seems to signal that the long-anticipated project now is moving forward.

Plans for a two-story, 18,000-square-foot office complex to be built overlooking West Circle Drive Northwest by 26th Street Northwest were submitted to the city planners on Aug. 21 under the title of "Re/Max building and parking lot."

Brian Schoeppner, of Rochester, filed the application. The owner is listed as the 14-year-old West Circle Drive LLC, which has an address of Suite 101 at 4115 26th St. N.W.

Re/Max Results, described as the largest locally owned and operated realty company in the Midwest, entered this market in February 2012, when it purchased Re/Max of Rochester along with Re/Max Realty Source of Austin from Duane Sauke.

Owned by John Collopy and Marshall Saunders, Re/Max Results operates in Minnesota and Wisconsin with more than 800 Realtors. The firm describes itself as the16th largest brokerage in the United States.

The plans for the new real estate office listed G-Cubed, of Chatfield, as the engineering firm for the project and Rochester's The Urban Studio as the architect for the project.

Since the application for the new Re/Max Results offices were just submitted last week, it's unclear how long it will take for the project to be approved by the city or for construction to begin.

August 21, 2014

Homewood Suites construction rolling along

08212014homewoodsuitesEven though the skies are stormy, it's clear sailing on the construction on the new 108-room, six-story Homewood Suites extended stay hotel near Saint Marys Hospital.

Rochester's Carpenter family and Torgerson Properties, of Willmar, are building the Homewood hotel next door to their Courtyard by Marriott hotel. They also own SpringHill Suites.

Work on this project started a year ago. Dennis Wallenta, vice president of hotel operations for Torgerson Properties, says construction is on track for the hotel to open this fall, possibly in November.

August 20, 2014

Rochester architecture firm to move soon

A Rochester architecture firm soon will move out of its long-time digs.

CRW Architecture-Design Group, formerly part of Yaggy Colby Associates, will move out of its offices at 717 Third Ave. S.E. at the end of September, said CRW Principal Chris Colby. The firm has been based in the SEH-Yaggy complex, since it spun off from Yaggy-Colby in 2010.
08202014crwoffices
CRW is led by Colby, Jose Rivas and Jason Woodhouse. All three previously worked for what used to be Yaggy Colby.

SEH-Yaggy has committed that office space to another tenant, according to Colby. SEH-Yaggy is the result of a merger earlier this year between Yaggy-Colby and St. Paul-based Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.

CRW OfficeWhile the firm eventually will move into its own building, construction of its 4,200-square-foot offices plus four apartments isn't expected to be completed until late October or early November.

That means the 10 employees at CRW will need to temporarily find work space for the 45 to 60 days until its new offices are finished, said Colby.

CRW's new complex is being built at 11th Avenue and Second St. N.W. The office and apartments are being developed by Jose Rivas.