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273 posts categorized "Downtown Roch. buzz"

October 13, 2014

New biotech office launches in Rochester

This one seems to have a lot of local momentum behind it.

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The health care technology arm of a Sri Lanka-based company is officially launching its Rochester office on Tuesday morning.

Brandix i310132014brandixoffice is hosting a grand opening in the morning of its 2,000-square-foot office on the skyway level of Minnesota BioBusiness Center at 221 First Ave. S.W.

The software development firm has been working out of a spot in the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, since early summer. The business accelerator is located on the same floor of the Biobusiness Center as Brandix's new office.

Aaron Epps, Brandix's associate vice president of health care, said earlier this year that office would launch with six employees, though he expects it to grow to 12 by the end of the year

"We want to be part of the Destination Medical Center project," he said. "We're looking to expand quickly. We're a start-up, but we're a start-up with the backing of a large 10132014brandixskywaysigncompany."

Brandix's focus is to work with its local partner, Rochester-based Ambient Clinical Analytics. Ambient makes "real-time decision support tools" for doctors and nurses working in the ICU, operating room or emergency departments.

Mayo Clinic launched Ambient in 2013, and it named Al Berning as CEO. Berning is known in Rochester as a former IBMer, a co-founder of Pemstar and former CEO of Hardcore Computers/LiquidCool Solutions. Ambient's management team includes other local business leaders, like former long-time IBM executives Drew Flaada and Deb Sutherland.

Brandix has a three-year lease with the City of Rochester. It pays $20 per rentable foot
is In addition to the leasing the 2,000-square-feet, Brandix's lease promises "first right of refusal" for the other 2,000 square feet of adjacent vacant space to the west.

The city gave Brandix "a one-time fit-up allowance" of $10 per square foot, or $20,000, to build out its offices.

Mayo, Cardio3 sign deal to expand collaboration

Mayo Clinic has deepened its long-time relationship with Cardio3 Biosciences by giving the Belgium firm "preferred access" to new regenerative-medicine discoveries.

Having preferred access means staff from Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine meet with Cardio3 on a quarterly basis to discuss technologies and research that are in the "pipeline," according to Michael Pfenning, center administrator. This gives Cardio3 the first chance to ask to license, purchase or otherwise work with the center's regenerative-medicine research.

008661829The access began on Oct. 1 and runs to December 2017. It then could be extended, if both parties agree.

Mayo Clinic and Cardio3 have collaborated for many years on the cardiopoiesis technology the company uses to repair patients' hearts by re-programming their own stem cell to regenerate cardiac tissue. Cardiopoiesis is a process that "re-programs" stem cells taken from a patient's bone marrow from their hip. Those re-programmed cells then are injected back into the patient's heart to repair damaged tissue.

Cardio3 BioSciences has licensed Mayo Clinic's research in this area, since 2007. That research was led by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. Dr. Terzic, who along with Mayo Clinic has a financial interest in Cardio3, also is the director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Mayo Clinic is helping Cardio3 with its new phase III clinical trial of its regenerative therapy. The trial is approved to recruit up to 240 patients and it is expected to begin in January. Rochester Area Economic Development Inc., the City of Rochester and Mayo Clinic are establishing a 2,000-square-foot facility in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center to freeze and prepare patient samples for shipping to Belgium.

"We have a great relationship with them from a commercialization perspective," said Timothy Argo, a technology licensing manager of Mayo Clinic Ventures. "From our perspective, this is all about finding ways to get things from our labs to patients faster."

Cardio3 sees the new relationship as a win-win.

“Mayo will continue to invent new concepts, while Cardio3 will offer its development expertise to those technologies, as well as guidance in the early development phases to the Mayo research teams," stated Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy in the announcement of the deal. "This agreement is in line with our business development strategy defined earlier this year, and enables our company to rapidly and significantly enlarge its product portfolio with high quality research programs across multiple therapeutic areas.”

September 18, 2014

H3 Plaza's 1st tenant to move in during Dec.

The first tenant is expected to move into downtown Rochester's latest office building development in December, though the entire seven-story complex is not expected to be completed until the spring.

Titan Development and Investments, of Rochester, is building the $17 million building now called H3 Plaza at 300 S. Broadway. Construction began in March, when Titan demolished the former C.O. Brown building that previously stood on the site. H3 is a reference to Rochester's Historic Third Street, which is directly across Broadway from the building.

541ae78d4ef07.imageTitan will be the building's first tenant, with plans to fill the sixth floor with its offices in December. Titan, led by Andy and Gus Chafoulias, has about 25 employees working out of the Minnesota Biobusiness Center on First Avenue Southwest.

"We'll have it ready by then," said Joe Fort, project supervisor for Weis Builders, last week, as he stood inside the bare beams on the sixth floor and a crew of about 45 of his workers and local subcontractors worked around him. Fort expects to have the building enclosed and weather-tight before the full force of winter hits. That will allow them to work through the colder months to complete the first through fifth floors.

All but 6,000 square feet of the 43,000-square-foot building is already leased to local tenants, said Titan marketing and communications manager Shelia Thoma. That available space is divided between the second and third floors of the H3 Plaza.

The Nova Restaurant Group, which is led by Scott Foster and Pat Woodring, will fill the street level with an authentic Italian eatery as well as a rooftop patio bar and grill on the seventh floor. The rooftop patio will tower over Rochester's two nearby roof bars, Kathy's Pub and The Tap House.

Foster and Woodring have worked with Gus Chafoulias in the past, when they opened Chester's Kitchen & Bar in his Shops at University Square building in 2008 and Pescara in his DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in 2009. They haven't named the H3 restaurants yet, though they do hope to open the Italian place in the spring.

Sept.2014H3rooftopSide-by side elevators will take people to the rooftop patio, even when the businesses in the building are closed. H3 Plaza will be connected to the adjacent City Centre complex and the Holiday Inn skyway.

Med City Dental and Dunlap & Seeger law firm, two businesses being displaced from the Associated Bank Building at 206 S. Broadway, have leased space in the H3 Plaza. The dental office, owned by Dr. Fred Carlson, will be located on the second floor, and the law firm, Rochester's largest, will occupy half of the third floor and all of the fourth and fifth floors.

Developer Bloom International Realty of Abu Dhabi plans to demolish the Associated Bank building in 2015 and possibly build a high-end hotel.

Andy Chafoulias originally envisioned developing the H3 Plaza site as a three-story restaurant and entertainment venue in 2013. That plan evolved as information about Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative came out, along with the re-development plans for the Associated Bank building.

The Rochester City Council approved a special redevelopment tax-increment-financing district to raise $300,000 for Titan to cover the asbestos removal and demolition of the former C.O. Brown building. The council also prematurely labeled the H3 development as a DMC project.
 
Assistant City Administrator Gary Neumann said that since the DMC Corp. board of directors needs to approve any project before the start of construction, the H3 development doesn't qualify. However, the council's order states that any leftover money from the tax increment financing for the project could rollover to any nearby approved DMC projects, such as the anticipated update of Historic Third Street.

The pay-as-you-go TIF essentially reimburses the annual taxes the developers will pay, once the project is complete. The earliest Titan could see a payment was estimated at 2016.

Another, much larger, Titan development planned for the corner of South Broadway and East Center Street could possibly qualify as a DMC project. Spearheaded by Gus Chafoulias, the preliminary plan presented to the City Planning and Zoning Commission in March showed a 24-story, mixed-used complex featuring retail and restaurants, a 184-unit Embassy Suites Hotel on 11 floors, 84 apartments on six floors and underground parking. It was called Broadway at Center at that point.

Thoma said that project, which now is called The Legacy, is undergoing changes.

"A redesign with the hotel plans is the reason we are still in the design phase," she said.

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 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.

August 15, 2014

Mama Fu's Rochester eatery is 'indefinitely' postponed

Mama Fu's Asian House still wants to open an eatery in Rochester, but don't expect to try General Fu's Chicken here anytime soon.

The Austin, Texas-based "Asian-centric" restaurant chain says its plans for a downtown location near Mayo Clinic are "indefinitely" postponed at this point.

Mama_Fus_logo_V_rgbBuzz about the quick Asian cuisine brand has been simmering since last year when the PB's insatiably hungry Answer Man wrote a column in November that said Mama Fu's had marked off a space in the Kahler Grand Hotel for a Rochester restaurant. Building permit applications were submitted to the city. Signs went in up in the Kahler promoting the future arrival of the franchise.

In recent months, Mama Fu's CEO still was mentioning the future Rochester location in news stories about the chain's plans to open smaller places as well as it's expansion into the Middle East.

Mama Fu's was slated to part be of the Kahler Hospitality Group's growing portfolio of franchise food spots including, Dunkin' Donuts and Freshens.

However, the signs came down and talk of Mama Fu's eventually faded. Albert Im, marketing manager for the Austin company, cleared up the situation in email this week.

"Mama Fu's and our franchise partner were looking forward to opening this year in the Mayo Clinic area. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances and logistical issues associated with the site, we have postponed plans to open in Rochester indefinitely until our next steps are identified," he wrote. "While we have every expectation that Rochester will be a fantastic market for Mama Fu's Asian House, we are unable to determine a time frame for our emergence into the community."

So, it may be a while longer until the local franchise partner opens a Mama Fu's in Rochester. However, work is progressing quickly on the Kahler Hospitality Group's second Freshens cafe. It will be located in the Marriott Subway in the former home of The Crate.

August 12, 2014

Sale results in a double shot of juice for downtown Rochester

The result of a recent deal is a double shot of fresh juice plus new food offerings in downtown Rochester.

On Aug. 6, Ann Chafoulias sold her Essential Juice in the First Avenue Food Court to David Hewitt. He also owns Mama Meg's Parlour and co-owns Johnny Mango's Pita Cafe in the same food court.

12082014juicetonictooChafoulias originally opened Essential in December with the goal of introducing downtown to healthy, fresh cold-pressed juice. She says the new business quickly earned many loyal regular customers and it was building a strong foundation. She developed a staff of about five employees.

"It's a beautiful product," she said. "It's the perfect spot for it. I believe in Rochester and in downtown."

Then during the last brutal winter, Chafoulias was offered a very appealing opportunity in Phoenix, Ariz., where she had attended college.

That drove her to find a buyer for Essential with the hope that the new owner would continue what she had built. Hewitt bit on the juicy offer and he brought in Nikki Sylvester, who opened a cold-pressed juice bar and organic food eatery called Tonic in southwest Rochester last fall.

On Monday, Hewitt and Sylvester unveiled a "co-branded" place under the name of Essential Cold-press Juices and Tonic Too.

In addition to Essential's bottles of freshly pressed juice, the new blended business now also serves luncheon options from Tonic's menu and smoothies.

Look for the Tonic/Essential mix to be serving at the popular Thursdays on First and Third street market from Sylvester's distinctive orange-shaped cart. Mama Meg's and Johnny Mango's Pita Cafe also are food vendors at the weekly events.

For her part, Chafoulias is glad that her juice business is still adding a fresh flavor to downtown.

"I'm excited to see what happens next," she said.

July 28, 2014

Mayo plans offices in former restaurant space

Mayo Clinic has decided to put administrative offices in the long-empty former Red Lobster space in downtown Rochester.

The roughly 6,000-square-foot space is on the street level of the 60-year-old Rosa Parks Pavilion building at 195 S. Broadway. Mayo bought the building for $2.37 million in 1997, and Red Lobster leased space there from 1987 until it closed in 2011 and opened in a new building by Apache Mall.
07272014exredlobsterspace
Since Red Lobster left, Mayo Clinic repeatedly has said it was looking at options for the prime downtown location. Even when Mayo Clinic began interior demolition in the former restaurant space in February, the official word was that no plans had been made for the spot.

That changed this week, when clinic officials confirmed their plans.

"We are in the process of converting the space into administrative space that can accommodate individuals and teams from different departments to co-locate for a period of time in order to collaborate on projects," Mayo's Kelley Luckstein said in an email. The space should be ready for staff to move in by November.

Given the clinic's seemingly endless need for space and its use of other nearby street-level spots for offices, the decision was not surprising, but it's disappointing for people who would like to see more street-level stores and restaurants downtown.

"Mayo Clinic did take into consideration retail space, but based on Mayo’s needs, this was the appropriate use of the space at this time," according to the statement emailed by Luckstein.

One critic of the decision is Adam Ferrari, a Rochester architect and an advocate for a more vibrant downtown. "I don't know who in public relations could defend how this is furthering the Destination Medical Center effort, but it's clearly contradictory," he said.

An official with the Rochester Downtown Alliance declined to comment on the change at this time.

While Ferarri was critical of Mayo's plans, he did acknowledge the clinic desperately is looking for office space. "Mayo is simply too hard up for space right now to let any square footage out of their grasp. That's my interpretation," he said.

June 30, 2014

Consultants hired to create DMC blueprint w/ FULL CONTRACTS

Here's some of the lead-in to my package from the weekend about the $4.1 million  contracts for the consultants to create the Destination Medical Center plan to re-make Rochester.

There's a lot more detail in the rest of the package. So if you are interested in this topic, I'd suggest reading the full piece.

And for the document wonks out there like me, here's the 251 page PDF that includes all of the contracts with Nelson / Nygaard Consulting Associates of San Francisco; Kimley-Horn and Associates of Cary, N.C.; AECOM Technical Services of Los Angeles; and EE&K of New York.

Download Combined Consulting Agreements EDA(1)

 

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Planning for a complex initiative like Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center doesn't come cheaply.

The surge of DMC hype already has national and international businesses fluttering around Rochester's sudden glow. The sale of commercial real estate is booming, particularly in the downtown core. New housing developments are being mapped out for the tens of thousands of people expected to move to Rochester for the forecasted 35,000 to 45,000 new jobs.

51687d3f5e0c6-image However, there's no blueprint yet for the $6 billion upgrade of the city's infrastructure, transportation systems, private development and more that's at the heart of DMC's vision of a Rochester better suited to accommodate more patients for Mayo Clinic.

Hiring a team to create a detailed plan for the massive undertaking to change the face of the city was a top priority for the public Destination Medical Center Corp. board of directors.

Public-private projects on this scale are rare in U.S., so there are not many examples to follow. National experts say sports developments, like the $975 million Vikings stadium and the new $622 million Atlanta Braves stadium, are about the only comparable projects to what is being proposed in Rochester.

The DMCC contracted with the DMC private Economic Development Agency, led by Mayo Clinic's Lisa Clarke, to handle hiring consultants to create the overall DMC "development plan." In December, the EDA board posted requests for proposal for six roles in the planning process.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upWith so much money on the table, proposals came in from 19 leading firms across the country and even overseas. Five of the teams vying for the contracts are based in Minnesota with three of them having offices in Rochester.

In April, the EDA wrapped up that six-month hiring process by contracting with four national consulting firms. Two were chosen to fill dual roles.

All of the consultants have had experience in major public-private projects, from stadiums to transit systems to airports.

Those four, plus another company hired in February, will be paid a total of $4.1 million this year to create the DMC's grand plan by February. That $4.1 million accounts for almost half of the DMC's total city-funded budget of $8.2 million for 2014.

In the end, all of the Minnesota hopefuls were passed over for the DMC planning jobs.

"The main factors that influenced our decisions was experience, knowledge of the market and the team they put forward. Those were the basic components we needed to consider as we moved forward," said Clarke. "I'm very confident that we have hired the best."

June 23, 2014

Rochester's Dunkin' Donuts to open at end of month

Doughnuts should be dunking before the fireworks start launching.

Rochester's new Dunkin' Donuts, the first to operate in Minnesota since 2005, is prepping for a late June "soft" opening. The return of DD is happening at 15 First Ave. S.W. in the Kahler Grand Hotel complex in the heart of downtown.

06232014dunkindonuts"We're in good shape," says Donna Caflisch, who represents Rochester Retail Services. "We're working hard on training now to make sure we're ready with good customer service."

So if you smell doughnuts in downtown during the next few weeks, it probably won't be your imagination. The staff is rolling through lots of training batches.

While Caflisch already has a full team of about 30 employees on staff, she says they still are hiring people that help with DD or other projects. Rochester Retail Services also manages the new Freshens franchise in the Kahler Inn & Suites and is working on a second one in the subway of the Marriott Hotel. That second Freshens could open its doors, if everything goes according to plan, in early August. It's located in the space that last housed the long-time downtown shop, The Crate.

She says the early responses to recent opened Freshens in the Kahler Inn have been very positive.

"People seem to be excited to see some variety in their (downtown) menu choices," said Caflisch.

When asked about speculation that a second Dunkin' is being planned for southeast Rochester, she said she couldn't comment.

While all of the franchises managed by Rochester Retail Services are located in downtown hotels owned by the Kahler Hospitalty Group and the firm offices in the Kahler, Caflisch stressed that there is absolutely no direct connection between any of the owners of the Kahler hotels and the owners of the restaurant franchises. However, she declined to identify who actually owns the franchises.

Rochester's Dunkin' Donuts franchisee, Donuts Non Traditional LLC, incorporated in October 2014. The address it uses is Rochester's Dunlap & Seeger law firm. That's the same address used for Rochester Retail Services, which incorporated in March 2013. It's not unusual for some companies to use their attorneys' address for such filings.