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1621 posts categorized "Early info/ more to come"

July 05, 2014

Courtesy Inn going down = Fairfield Inn going up

Demolition of the Courtesy Inn is picking up speed to clear the way for a new hotel to be built in northwest Rochester.

07042014courtesyinnOnce the old 44-room Courtesy Inn is torn down, a group of local investors will start construction of a 91-room, four-story Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel on the site at 510 17th Ave. N.W. That's near the Miracle Mile Shopping Center.

Parts of the Courtesy Inn date to 1952, when Marcel Prow opened Prow's Hotel.

The local investors are led by Nick Pompeian and Harshal Patel.

Construction of the Fairfield Inn is expected to take between six to eight months.

June 24, 2014

Prosthetic Laboratories of Rochester sold to Texas company

After 30 years under local ownership, a Rochester prosthetic firm has been bought out by an Austin, Texas-based company.

Prosthetic Laboratories of Rochester, Inc., founded here by former Mayo Clinic technicians Steve Amundson and Mike Gozola in 1984, has been acquired by Hanger Inc.

Exterior_rochester3Darren Overton of Prosthetic Labs confirmed the sale, but didn't say when it occurred or what it might mean for the about 85 employees that work at Prosthetic Lab's offices in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

Hangarlogo"We aren't at liberty to disclose details of the acquisition, but what we can share is that we are pleased our company has joined the Hanger family," he stated in an email response to questions. "Hanger provides more opportunities and resources to our staff and patients than we could as an independent facility."

A media representative for Hanger said they could not discuss the purchase yet. The publicly traded company describes itself as the largest owner and operator of orthotic and prosthetic patient care clinics in the United States.

In 2009, the majority owner of Prosthetic Labs was Rochester developer Gus Chafoulias. He owned the private company along with Gozola and Amundson. It's unclear if those three were still the owners, when Hangar bought the firm.

Its main Rochester facility is located at 121 23rd Ave. S.W., in front of the Shorewood Senior Campus along Second Street Southwest. Prosthetic Labs' corporate family also includes Lair’s Shoes, the Silhouette Shoppe and Ortho Innovations. Its staff saw an average of 10,000 patients a year at its Rochester office in 2009.

While Prosthetic Labs has been very successful locally, it's much smaller than its new new owner. Hanger reports that it has an annual net income of about $60 million and makes about $1 billion of sales a year. It has more than 5,000 employees working at 740 clinic locations.

Acquiring mid-sized firms like Prosthetic Labs is not a new thing for Hanger. In 2012, it bought six companies.

In May, Hanger reported earnings for the first quarter that did not rise to the levels analysts had expected. The company reported an earning per share of 19 cents, missing the estimate of 24 cents. Its quarterly revenue of $235.60 million was below the anticipated $243.60 million

May 28, 2014

Analyst speculates that Hormel may be target of takeover bid

There's a lot of merger and acquistion activity cooking in the meatier aisles of the financial markets these days.

Spammy2The latest was Pilgrim Pride's surprise move to buy Hillshire Brands. Lots of investors with stock options profited from the $6.4 billion deal and that's leading to speculation about the next meat deal to hit the grill might be.

I spotted a very speculative column today on Barron's website by Scott H. Fullman of investment research firm, Increasing Alpha, on that topic. Fullman focused Austin's favorite Fortune 500 company and the creator of Spam, Hormel Foods, as a takeover candidate.

I have no idea if his theories make sense.

Here's some from Fullman's piece:

"Often when such an acquisition takes place, we look for other candidates. One stock seeing increased interest re Spamproductscently is Hormel Foods Corp, which rose back above its 100-day moving average Tuesday and was attempting to break above its 50-day moving average, but ended the day just below it. Momentum is rising sharply and volume is higher as well.

We are seeing a slight increase in implied volatility for Hormel, even as the shares jumped. The 30-day implied volatility is up more than 0.7% for calls, and down 0.8% for puts, indicating a sharp shift in bullish sentiment.

Despite the rise, those risk premiums are still close to their 52-week lows. Clearly, other traders are having the same thought as we are.

If you are looking for a low-cost, low-dollar-risk entry, consider purchasing the Hormel July $50 calls, which are offered at 40 cents. The delta on that option, which shows the current relationship between the movement of the stock and the option, is 23%, but it is expected to rise as the call becomes closer to being at-the-money, thereby increasing the leverage of the option. If the stock rises 10% from here to $52.58, the options will be worth $2.58, for a gain of $2.18 per share, or 545%. If the shares fail to rise, you will lose 40 cents per share, or 100% of your investment.

That compares, however, to a potential loss of $1.14 for those purchasing shares if the stock reverts to Friday's closing price.

Our suggestion is to purchase an equivalent number of calls to the amount of stock you can afford to buy, thereby keeping your risk in check.

May 14, 2014

Lost Cajun restaurant plans grand opening

Construction is cooking along at Joe and Theresa Peplinski's Lost Cajun eatery and the new Rochester restaurateurs have set a target date for their grand opening.
04142014lostcajunconstruction
The Peplinskis are optimistic that their new Southern food place should be ready for a grand opening on June 28.

"It might be tight. There's still a lot of construction to do, but we think June 28 will work," says Joe Peplinski.

They are in the midst of transforming a 19-year-old former SuperAmerica convenience store at 2025 South Broadway into a Cajun-flavored cafe. The husband and wife also are working on hiring the restaurant's team of the employees to staff their new place.

Joe estimates that they'll have between 30 to 40 people on staff for the opening. They hope to be training employees at least by June. While they are starting to interview job candidates, the Lost Cajun still is accepting applications, which can be downloaded from its website.

05142014lostcajun2The menu will bring the taste of down-home Louisiana cooking to Rochester's cold-blasted taste buds. That means gumbo, chicory coffee, po' boy sandwiches, crawfish etouffe, shrimp bisque, fried okra and the sweet dessert pastry beignet.

The 1,900-square-foot restaurant will be able to seat up to about 55 inside and possibly 30 more outside.

After working at IBM for 28 years, Joe is finding the experience of opening a new restaurant very educational.

"It's a very exciting new adventure for us," he says.

May 13, 2014

LSI becomes Avago, impact on Roch. office uncertain

05132014avagomainsignLSI Corp., which designs semiconductors and software, officially became part of Avago Technologies last week as the $6.6 billion acquistion officially closed.

That change reportedly has LSI/Avago employees in Rochester wondering about their future.

05132014avagoinsidesignUnofficial buzz around the change is that a decision is being made this week about keeping the Rochester jobs here or moving them out of state.

It's unclear how many people currently work at the site here at 3033 41st St. N.W., though LSI has employed between 10 to 30 people here at different times over the years. LSI also has Minnesota facilities in Bloomington and Mendota Heights.

LSI has had an "on again, off again relationship" with Rochester dating back to 2002, when it leased 20,000 square feet of space in the Valley Business Center II at 3425 40th Ave. N.W. It had about 29 employees.

On June 30, 2006, LSI closed its Rochester site. It had 11 employees, when it closed.

AgeremailboxThen in November 2006, Allentown, Penn.-based Agere Systems opened a 6,000-square-foot office at 3033 41st St. N.W. Agere hired a team of 10 local storage design engineers that formerly worked for Maxtor Corp.’s Rochester office. That office closed in 2006 when Maxtor was acquired by Seagate Technologies.

LSI re-appeared in Rochester in December 2006, when it bought Agere Systems. Soon the signs at 3033 41st St. N.W. turned into LSI.

That's where everything stood until the arrival of Avago. In the press release announcing the acquistions, Avago stated that it anticipates saving $200 million by Nov. 1, 2015. That might be interpretated as plans to close some of LSI's 26 facilities.

I'll do my best to keep an eye on this to see what happens next. If anyone has information, official or otherwise, about this, I'm interested in hearing it.

May 09, 2014

DMCC board meeting canceled

The nonprofit organization orchestrating Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative has canceled its scheduled monthly public meeting for March.

The DMC Corp. sent out a notice this morning that the board meeting scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled. No explanation for the cancellation was mentioned in the statement. Inquiries were answered that a scheduling conflict spurred the cancellation of the meeting.

The announcement of the cancellation did state that a notice for the rescheduling of the meeting will be posted "as soon as possible."

The DMC Corp. works with its associated Economic Development Development Agency to steer the $6 billion DMC project to re-develop the city of Rochester. As a public-private group, it holds regularly scheduled monthly board meetings that are open to the public.

The board has scheduled meetings coming up on July 10, Sept. 11 and Nov. 13.

April 15, 2014

Doubletree's Rochester Club to stop serving lunch

RochclubletterTitan Development's Doubletree by Hilton hotel sent out a letter to the members of its exclusive Rochester Club to notify them that the club will soon stop serving lunch.

These club members have access to the Doubletree's Executive Lounge, which it accessible only from the two executive level floors. It serves a hot breakfast buffet, a light hot dinner and cocktails with the Doubletree cookies and milk later in the evening.

Rochester clubNot sure how many people are members of the Rochester Club, but I believe a lot of local business leaders use this service.

The letter, which was forwarded to me from multiple members, mentions how much Titan has on its plate right now with its two downtown developments. It didn't explain how those projects connect to the Rochester Club and exactly why the lunch is going away.

I have a call in to the hotel to try to get more details.

April 10, 2014

Associated Bank working on new spots for Rochester branches

Associated Bank is planning to close its branch in the Hy-Vee North grocery  and then re-open it in a future northwest Rochester location.

Associateddrawing1The Green Bay, Wis. bank announced this week that it will close the grocery store branch at 500 37th St. N.W. at the end of July. Hy-Vee customers will then be served by Associated Bank's Rochester locations on South Broadway, First Avenue Southwest and 16th Street Southwest.

The five branch employees based at the Hy-Vee branch will work at Associated's three other Rochester branches until a new northwest facility "in the West Circle Drive corridor" is completed.

While bank officials wouldn't confirm the location of the to-be-constructed bank yet, Associated has submitted very early plans to the city to build a 3,683-square-foot branch in the 19th Street/West Circle Drive commercial development anchored by Costco.

Re-locating the northwest branch is not the only Rochester move coming up for the bank.

New owners have acquired Associated Bank's downtown building at 206 South Broadway and the bank needs to move out by spring 2015. There was speculation when the site development permit was filed for the West Circle Drive branch that it might serve as the new home for the downtown branch.

Not so, says the bank's spokesman. It's actively looking for a new location that will allow it to maintain its presence downtown.

“We are finalizing plans for an exciting new Associated Bank location in the West Circle Drive Corridor and continue to review opportunities for a new downtown bank location," stated Executive Vice President David Stein in this week's announcement.

Stein also commented that, "The greater Rochester area represents an important market for Associated Bank, and we are committed to serving our customers there with expanded operations and services."

Associated Bank entered the Rochester area in 2004, when it acquired First Federal Capital Bank. First Federal was short-lived here. It picked up the holdings of the long-time Marquette Bank in 2002.

April 03, 2014

Does Mayo Clinic have plans for Shoppes on Maine?

Mayo Clinic seems to be looking to south Rochester for a future project, even though there's no official word yet.

Tom Hexum, of Maine Street Development Co. of Rochester, filed a Land Development Application on March 11 for a 22,000-square-foot "commercial building with parking" at the corner of Canal Place Southeast and Maine Avenue Southeast. That puts the building near Fat Willy's Bar and Grill and across Maine Avenue from the commercial center anchored by Lowe's.

Mayo buildingThe proposed building would be situated on two acres and have 109 parking spaces. Plans call for a half circle drive in front for loading and unloading at the building's entrance, which would be covered with an 880-square-foot canopy.

Hexum and Maine Street have been the local driving force behind development in the Shoppes on Maine area from its start. Most of their previous projects had future tenants identified before any construction began. But this new development application doesn't name any tenant.

However, Mayo Clinic enters the picture when the application was studied by city staff. The Department of Planning and Zoning and the Department of Public Works describe the building as the "proposed Mayo Clinic facility" in letters on May 14 and May 24. Those letters denied the application until a variety of site-related issues are addressed.

Despite being named by city officials, Mayo Clinic would neither confirm nor deny any specific plans in the Shoppes on Maine area.

"We are exploring options to improve our ability to improve access to community care for our employees and those who depend on us for these services," said Rebecca Eisenman, of Mayo Clinic's Communications Dept. "Future options may include expansion of facilities and services in southeast Minnesota, but no specific details are available at this time."

While the first application for this building was denied, it seems likely that Rochester design firm Yaggy Colby will be able to address the issues and get the development approved.

We'll just need to watch how it plays out and listen to what Mayo Clinic has to say about it.

April 02, 2014

New Roch. Menards to open April 8

Rochester's new northside Menards store will open its doors at 6:30 a.m. April 8.

The newly completed $12 million store near the intersection of U.S. 52 and 65th Street Northwest will replace its old store at 5150 U.S. 52 North. That store is prepared to shift to close-out mode and will remain open for a while after the 65th Street store opens.

Menards also has a south Rochester store at 3000 S. Broadway.

The new 90,000-square-foot store is on 35 acres, with an additional 40 acres available for development by other businesses. Planned for years, the project wMenards-Logoas delayed while waiting for a proposed U.S. 52 interchange at 65th Street Northwest to be built. The interchange recently was constructed with funding from a portion of the local-option sales tax revenue.

“We appreciate all the loyal customers who continued to shop at Menards through the years and
look forward to opening this new store," store manager Eric Ritter said in a company announcement. "Everyone has been working really hard for weeks in preparation of opening the doors to better serve the community with all the latest, greatest home improvement products.”

The new store includes a full-service lumber yard, a garden center, appliances, pet supplies and convenience grocery items. An official grand opening for the new store will be scheduled for a later date.

Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards operates 286 home improvement stores in 14 Midwestern states.

Once the existing Menards facility at 5150 U.S. 52 North closes, two Rochester retailers plan to upgrade the building and move their businesses into it. Jim Sather and Mark Byer, who own the Furniture Superstore Factory Outlet and America's Mattress stores, hope to move forward with that project as soon as possible.