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324 posts categorized "Downtown Roch. buzz"

January 12, 2016

Colorful downtown Mexican restaurant goes dark

It looks like El Loro has flown from Rochester as the Mexican eatery on Fourth Street Southeast has been dark for days. 

El-loro-logoEl Loro, which translates to The Parrot, opened in the old Chicago Great Western train depot at 20 Fourth St. SE in 2012. It is owned by Marcos Gomez, who owns a number of other Mexican restaurants in Minnesota with his brother.

The restaurant now sits closed and has been that way for days. Details of the closure are unknown, as Gomez has been unavailable for comment at his other restaurants.

The El Loro website lists restaurants in Bloomington, Burnsville, Savage and Hutchinson. Rochester recently has been removed from the list.

El Loro's abrupt closure comes on the heels of the building's recent sale.

The 115-year-old depot building was purchased for $800,00 in November by a collection of local and out-of-state investors under the name of The Med City Restaurant Group.

Realtor Nick Pompeian of Realty Growth Inc., who handled the deal, said the new owners had no plans to change anything and hope to keep a restaurant operating in the building.

"They just saw this as a good opportunity to own a piece of downtown," he said at the end of December.

So whatever happens next, it seems likely that a restaurant eventually will fill t 01112016depotplaquehe depot again. However, it's unclear how soon something like that could happen.

Before  El Loro, it housed another Mexican restaurant. In 2001, Jorge Ocegueda opened Dos Amigos in the depot. In 2011, he revamped the eatery and renamed it as Paseo del Rio. Paseo del Rio had a short run and soon was replaced by El Loro in 2012.

The depot originally was built in 1899 by Winona & Southwestern Railroad at the intersection of First Avenue and Second Street Southeast. Two years later, the line was sold to Chicago Great Western, which moved the building north across the river in 1903 by cutting it in two, placing each half on a flat rail car, and reassembling it at 19 Second St. SE.

In 1949, the structure was remodeled to also serve as a terminal for the Jefferson Bus Lines. The last passenger train left the depot in 1950, but Jefferson remained until 1987.

It then was sold to the city and slated for demolition until a "Save the Depot" citizens group temporarily moved it near the power plant at 533 First Ave. N.E. It was moved across the street a year later to allow Marigold Foods, now Kemps, to expand.

In 1997, Bruce Kreofsky & Sons acquired it at no cost from the City of Rochester. Kreofsky renovated it and moved it to the current location. Rochester Depot LLCof Plainview, which is connected to Kreofsky, acquired it at no cost in September 2010.

 

January 08, 2016

ArchMN mag's take on Mayo Clinic's DMC plan

20141216_dmc01_53Over the past few years, many publications have analyzed, dissected and speculated about Mayo Clinic's proposed Destination Medical Center plan.

And now Architecture MN magazine has published its own take on the plan in an article by Thomas Fisher. He looks at the plan and chats with DMC's lead urban designer Peter Cavaluzzi of the New York firm.

Here are a few excerpts that caught my eye:

• "One of them —Discovery Square—will provide a place near the Mayo Medical School for technological development and entrepreneurial spin-offs from the school and the Mayo Clinic. That integration of research and practice, innovation and application, fits the Mayo model perfectly, and Discovery Square may, ultimately, do the most to secure the economic future of the city, as start-up companies emerge and grow. The Perkins Eastman master plan calls for an open space at the center of this district, above which skyways converge into an elevated glass building that, while a good idea, looks too big for the space and a bit ominous in the renderings."

6a00d83451cc8269e201b7c791bc82970b-300wiIt's nice to hear an expert question the big glass structure slated for Discovery Square. My uneducated eye has always thought that it looks like a big, glass "Independence Day"-like spaceship landing on downtown in the renderings. However, I have never be very good at visualizing what development projects will look like in reality.

• "Another big move in the master plan—the Downtown Waterfront—links the government center and the civic and art center with pedestrian-friendly plazas that open up to a widened Zumbro River, finally freed from its current flood-control channel to become a real asset for the city. This district’s sweeping set of bridges, embankments, and buildings will break Rochester’s insistent street grid and provide a place for community events and celebrations that today have few options for outdoor venues. A grand gesture like this doesn’t happen without controversy, however. Some have questioned the planned removal of the existing public library near the river, even though, as Cavaluzzi observes, the library had already begun to look at moving, having outgrown its small, nondescript building."

Hhmmmm.... I have never heard the Rochester Public described as a "small, nondescript building" before. I guess it is a matter of perspective.

Read the full ArchMN article here.

 

December 24, 2015

Downtown art gallery officially closed

Downtown Rochester lost some color today when  Southeastern Minnesota Visual Artists (SEMVA) closed up their gallery.

12242015semvaclosingsignEarlier this month, SEMVA President Andy Westreich sent messages to the cooperative's 84 artists saying that the gallery could no longer afford its high-profile spot at 16 First St. SW on Rochester's Peace Plaza.

"It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that we were unable to negotiate a reasonable lease renewal, and the board of directors has voted to close the SEMVA Gallery after 23 years in business," he wrote. "This was not an easy decision to come by, and many factors played a role in our final vote."

The letter cited a number of factors in the decision, including a 40 percent increase in rent and a decrease in traffic following the closure of popular downtown businesses like the Barnes and Noble Bookstore and Michaels restaurant. SEMVA sales are down 13 percent compared to 2014.

Beyond the rent increase, SEMVA leaders also mentioned that almost five months of negotiations with landlord George Psomas were held up by his plan to change the renewal clause in the lease from five years to one year.

Today was the gallery's last day. Artists were packing up their works.

However, the cooperative leaders are confident that they will be able to find a new home of the gallery in the near future.

 

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 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. 

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 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 Wesley 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 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.

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.