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2927 posts categorized "Follow-up"

August 26, 2015

O&B Shoes to stroll to new home this weekend

Downtown Rochester will see a major migration of Mary Janes, moccasins, mukluks and more this weekend as a crew of between 20 to 30 people march a mountain of shoes to a new storefront.

O&B Shoes will hit the sidewalk this weekend as staff, family and friends move more than $61,000 in shoes, boots and sandals less than a block to the store's new downtown home.

08262015newobshoes"It's going to be a total team effort," said owner Don "Sole Man" Hadley. "We're excited about it. It's going to be a new adventure for me, my staff and my customers."

If everything goes as planned, O&B should re-open on Monday or possibly Tuesday.

O&B Shoes, which has been a downtown feature for 82 years, is moving north from its long-time spot on the corner of 100 First Ave. SW to a new space at 19 First Ave. SW. That's the street-level spot in the Kahler Hotel building where Hanny's Men's Wear operated for decades until that store closed last year. Hanny's still has stores in the Kahler subway.

A crew of between 20 to 30 people is slated to walk the boxes and boxes of footwear to move the 6,000-square-foot storefront. The store will be accessible from the subway, as Hanny's was, although that access won't go through Hanny's store under the space, he said.

O&B shoesO&B, which was founded by Leo Olson and Herbert Bergerson in 1933, has been in its present location since 1976. Its previous downtown spot at 217 Broadway Ave. S. was damaged in a fire.

The prominent spot on the Peace Plaza in the heart of downtown has made O&B a well-known landmark and regular stop for returning Mayo Clinic patients.
08202015cloud9spa
No new tenant for the 100 First Ave. SW storefront has been announced by the building's owner, George Psomas, though signage has gone up for Cloud 9 Spa in the adjacent one. O&B operates its O&B Athletic and O&E (Odds & Ends) Bargain Room in that space on First Avenue. 

August 19, 2015

Mayo Clinic officially opens Mayo Medical Labs expansion

About a year after breaking ground on the project, Mayo Clinic officially opened a 60,000-square-foot expansion of its Superior Drive Support Center on Tuesday.

The Superior Drive Support Center, which houses Mayo Medical Laboratories, is located at 3050 Superior Drive NW. The three-story addition built on the south side of the complex. Mayo Clinic is moving its the toxicology, endocrinology and proteomic core labs to the new space from downtown. They expect to be fully moved in by April.

Moving those three labs out of the Hilton Building will open up 24,000-square-feet of space. While this expansion will not bring new jobs, it will mean moving 150 to 170 people out of downtown to join the more than 1,000 Mayo Medical Labs employees at the Superior Drive complex.

"That's essential to allow other Mayo labs to decompress," said Dr. Matt Binnicker, the chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology's Facilities and Space Committee, in 2014. "Having those labs here makes a lot of sense."


Mayo Medical Labs, which generates revenue for Mayo Clinic, performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually.

Binnicker explained that while the three labs handle tests for both Mayo Clinic's patients and Mayo Medical Labs clinical customers, about 90 to 95 percent of their work is for MML.

Mayo Clinic moved into the 13-year-old complex in 2004. By 2011, about 800 employees worked at the facility. It originally was built by electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. in 2001. When that company closed its Rochester operation, the building was left empty.

Mayo Clinic leased the property for eight years, until it paid $18.5 million in August 2012 to buy it. Before that, it was owned by 17 national investors through Triple Net Properties of Santa Ana, Calif., until they defaulted on the mortgage in 2012. The investors bought the property for $36.8 million in 2006.

When the mortgage defaulted, HSBC Bank USA took over the property. HSCB then sold it to Mayo Clinic.

While it originally was under construction, New York City-based W. P. Carey & Co. LLC bought the complex from Celestica, which leased it back. W.P. Carey later sold it for about 70 percent more than the $21.6 million it paid.

August 18, 2015

Home Federal wraps up Kasson Bank buy

Rochester's Home Federal Savings Bank has officially wrapped up its purchase of Kasson State Bank.

6a00d83451cc8269e201b7c771ae58970b-250wiHome Federal announced the deal to acquire the bank and its two Kasson branches in April. HMN Financial, Home Federal's parent holding company, actually made the acquisition.

"We look forward to continuing on with the long established community banking tradition of Kasson State Bank in serving the individual and business banking needs of Kasson and surrounding communities in the years to come," stated HMN President Brad Krehbiel in the announcement of the closure of the deal.

Homefederal_logoThe Palmer family owned the Kasson State Bank. It has 19 employees on staff and assets of about $60 million. The two branches will now be operated under the Home Federal name.

Neither bank released financial details about the deal. Home Federal officials did say that the bank funded the acquisition with "internally available funds." 

Kasson State Bank has a 141-year history dating back to the 1874 founding of the First National Bank of Kasson. The bank has been owned by the Palmer family since 1924.

Home Federal now has nine Minnesota branches. It has offices in Albert Lea, Austin, Eagan, La Crescent, two in Rochester, Spring Valley and Winona; one full-service office in Marshalltown, Iowa; one loan-origination office in Sartell; and two private-banking offices in Rochester.

August 14, 2015

South Dakota firm begins work on 192 apartments

Lots of dirt moving in northwest Rochester is a sign that work has started on a new, more than $20 million apartment complex.

South Dakota-based Stencil Homes is developing a two-building, 192-unit project called The Pines at Badger Hills. It's tucked away on Badger Hills Drive Northwest between the second and third roundabouts. That puts it just off of West Circle Drive and near the new Hy-Vee grocery store. A new roadway will connect The Pines with the new commercial development.

08132015thepinesonbadgerDeveloper and builder Nate Stencil describes The Pines as "a mix of market rate with one- and two-bedroom apartments." His goal is to have it open by summer 2016.

"This one is not a luxury project. It is a middle to upper, price-point-driven project," he said.

While Stencil only has been active in Rochester for a few years, he has a lot of projects in the works here.

"We've been pretty aggressive in the market. We've been able to make some good relationships there," he said. Stencil works closely with well-known Rochester Realtor Merl Groteboer.

The firm has two other Rochester apartment complexes — Nue52 and Kascade Place — under construction at Rochester's 65th Street Northwest interchange, across U.S. Highway 52 from the north Menards store.

Stencil expects Nue52, which has 83 units, to be ready to open within 60 days or so. Kascade Place, which will have 96 units, is expected to open in February or March.

Stencil Homes also has announced plans to build a $15 million, 110-unit apartment complex on the corner of Third Avenue Southeast and Fourth Street in downtown Rochester. That's across from the city-county Government Center. That project still is in the early planning stages.

More than 480 apartments might seem like a lot to have in the pipeline for Rochester, which has many other similar projects already in the works. However, Stencil isn't worried.

"There's a lot of pent-up demand there," he said. "I think everyone will be surprised how well the market there will handle adding a couple thousand units."

However, Stencil predicts The Pines will be the firm's last "suburban" or outlying Rochester development for a while.

"We feel strongly that there is more opportunity in the downtown area now. We have one other project we'll be doing in the urban core (in addition to the Fourth Street one)," he said.

Meanwhile, he's also moving quickly on another Minnesota project — revamping the former Pioneer Press building in downtown St. Paul. He recently purchased it and plans to convert it into 175 market-rate apartments.

August 13, 2015

Local elves bringing Rochester's "real" Santa Claus back to town

Even during the dog days of August, a Christmas miracle could be on the horizon for Rochester.

For the past 13 years, families have been visiting the "real" Santa Claus at Rochester's Apache Mall. This incarnation of St. Nicholas has developed a close relationship with the Med City during his popular annual visits.

549992e082afc.image"He's the real deal" is how Rochester's Kristine Caballero describes the jolly bearded fellow. "The magic truly is in him."

The depth of his connection to Rochester became apparent last year. His corporate employer, Worldwide Photography, was pushing to have him work 12 hours a day. When he said he could only manage 10 hours a day, the company moved to cut his hours and bring in a part-time Santa.

Parents immediately banned together to "save" Santa by creating a Facebook page to pressure Worldwide and the Apache Mall. The page quickly collected more than 7,000 "likes" and Santa finished the season bolstered by the support of his many fans.

However, when his contract to return to Rochester recently wasn't renewed by Worldwide, it looked like this Christmas carol might end on a sour note. The Texas-based company did not share the reason behind not bringing him back, though some have speculated that it could be a backlash reaction to the Save Santa campaign.

"It was a hard, emotional hit," said Santa, also known as Jerry Julian, of not being hired to return to Rochester. "Does this mean I just disappear for the families expecting to see me? In my heart, I didn't think it was right to abandon children and families."

Kim Bradley, Apache Mall manager, had no direct comment about this situation other than to say that the mall have a Santa Claus available starting on Nov. 19.

"We're looking forward to a great holiday season," she said.

When the rejected long-time Santa shared the situation with some of his friends in Rochester, Caballero, Melissa Eggler and others leaped into action to find an alternative way to bring him back for the holidays.

"His desire to come back is so great. I told him that 'You don't need corporate to bring you in here. This community loves you,'" said Caballero.

On Monday, the owners of the Miracle Mile Shopping Center agreed to provide a storefront for Santa by the ABC Toy Zone shop. He will appear there from the third week of November through Christmas Eve. While he might end up working with a photographer, the current plan is to allow families to take their own photos and accept donations.

"I'm really humbled by this," said Santa. "It's a gamble and there are still a lot of loose ends, but I know this is the job that the good Lord wants me to do."

Now Santa's helpers are working to raise money to cover Santa's basic travel and living expenses. They launched a GoFundMe campaign this week that has already brought in $260 in pledges. The money they raise is targeted just for basic expenses. Santa says anything raised by the GoFundMe campaign beyond his expenses will be donated to Rochester's Ronald McDonald House.

Caballero added that even her young son feels it's important to bring this Santa back to Rochester.

"He had heard us talking and asked about it. He said, 'But Mom, just think about all of children whose lives will be affected, if he doesn't come,'" she said.

August 11, 2015

New SW grocery store to open in September

The latest entry in Rochester's grocery scene plans to open its doors in mid-September.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has been working on a 14,000-square-foot store at 1507 Greenview Drive SW by Kwik Trip and TJ Maxx Plaza for the past few months.

08112015naturalgrocersThe Golden, Colo.-based specialty grocery chain is planning to open on Sept. 15. Expect a large grand opening event with a couple preview days before for local VIPs.

Natural Grocers built its new store at the corner of Greenview Drive and Salem Road Southwest on a site once slated for a Think Mutual Bank branch. Think changed its strategy and opted to renovate its nearby branch.

This will be Natural Grocers' first store in Minnesota, though the 59-year-old public company operates 84 stores in 14 states, with 10 more stores expected to open soon.

Natural Grocers features organic foods as well as an extensive selection of vitamins and dietary supplements. The chain's website says its stores devote about 30 percent of their shelf space to vitamins, which in turn generates about 30 percent of its revenue.

The new store is the latest player in the increasingly competitive grocery scene in Rochester. Discount grocer Aldi recently opened a second store near Costco in northwest Rochester. Hy-Vee is working on its fourth location, which is slated to open later this year, and it will have a grand reopening of the remodeled 37th Street Northwest store on Aug. 20.

 

August 10, 2015

TapImmune using Mayo Clinic tech for possible cancer vaccine

 

Assistant Manager Editor Mike Klein spotlighted a press announcement from a Seattle-based biotech company called TapImmune Inc. working with Mayo Clinic this morning.

I remember in 2010, when TapImmune first licensed Mayo Clinic technology and began collaborating with Mayo's world-renowned vaccine exTapimmunelogopert, Dr. Gregory Poland.

At that point, they were working with a Small Pox construct to create the vaccine for cancer as well as other infectious threats like, Ebola.

In May of this year, reports came out about Mayo Clinic's Dr. Edith Perez saying how this vaccine changed her view towards preventative medicine. She is working with TapImmune oon applying the vaccine to fight breast cancer.

TapImmune had only $142,000 in and $3.3 million in losses at that point in May.

This appears to be a promising company with deep ties to Mayo Clinic. It seems like a good candidate to based in Rochester rather than someplace like Seattle.

Here's some of what Klein filed on this for today's paper:

Seattle-based TapImmune Inc. has exercised its option agreement with Mayo Clinic to use its technology in a possible vaccine for certain types of cancer, it announced.

TapImmune signed a worldwide exclusive license agreement to commercialize a "proprietary folate receptor alpha vaccine technology for all cancer indications."

This technology, developed in the laboratory of Keith Knutson at Mayo, has successfully completed Phase I clinical trials in ovarian and triple-negative breast cancer. The trial demonstrated the experimental therapy was "safe, well-tolerated, provided a robust immune response," according to the news release. Next, TapImmune plans a Phase II clinical trial in the second half of the year.

TapImmune CEO Dr. Glynn Wilson said the company's future clinical programs will be "aimed at developing this leading vaccine candidate as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other immunotherapies."

Mayo Clinic has a financial interest in the technology.

August 07, 2015

Apollo Liquors Express opens Oronoco location

Apollo is coming to Oronoco.

968825_549948038406056_1931891568_nThe Oronoco Gas N Go convenience store on the east side of U.S. Highway 52 North is popping the top on a new store-within-a-store today. The Gas N Go is opening up an Apollo Liquors Express store today.

To launch the new venture, the Gas N Go is hosting a grand opening celebration today and Saturday with music, food and prize giveaways.

August 05, 2015

Boston Scientific buys major stake in local firm, Preventice

Preventice Solutions, a maker of wearable cardiac monitors with deep Rochester roots, is getting a major boost from a medical giant.

Boston Scientific Corp. announced Tuesday it now is "a significant shareholder" in Preventice as well as its "exclusive worldwide sales and marketing representative."

Preventice, which has a large development center in northwest Rochester, makes the wearable BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System, developed from research licensed from Mayo.

144536The new deal clears the way for Preventice to reach the remote monitoring market estimated to total $19 billion to $21 billion by 2016. Experts anticipate almost five million patients will be using some type of wireless monitoring by then.

"As our health-care environment continues to evolve, health-care practitioners, administrators and payors are looking for solutions that identify relevant clinical insights from large volumes of patient data and integrate those insights to improve clinical decision-making," said Boston Science Executive Vice President Joe Fitzgerald in Tuesday's announcement.

Fitzgerald described Preventice as having "an infrastructure optimized to monitor hundreds of thousands of patients each year."

The privately owned firm has grown quickly since being launched in 2007 with only its founders on staff. Preventice evolved from Boost Information Services. It was founded by Jon Otterstatter, Greg Wobig, Dan Spors and Scott Burrichter.

Preventice started as a developer of medical information smartphone apps, in collaboration with Mayo Clinic and Merck. Then it shifted gears to begin developing wearable cardiac monitors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its wireless BodyGuardian monitor to be prescribed to track nonlethal arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats, in 2012.

In 2013, Preventice began shipping out its BodyGuardian systems to feed what CEO Otterstatter described then as the health-care industry's growing "fever" for remote medical monitoring. That year, it expanded to about 100 employees, with about half in Preventice's Rochester offices. Based in Minneapolis, Preventice also has an office in Fargo, N.D.

Preventice Solutions merged with Houston, Texas-based eCardio Diagnostics in 2014, under the holding company of Preventice Inc.

August 04, 2015

Thai eatery closes, hopes to hit road as food truck

A northwest Rochester restaurateur has closed the doors of his eatery, but he hopes to eventually take his menu on the road.

Over the weekend, Pativath "Vot" Louprasong closed Sok Dee at 4180 18th Ave. NW in front of the Cedarwood Plaza shopping center. He said expenses had just gotten too high keep it open there.

That's the building which previously has housed Far East FusionJohn Hardy's Bar-B-Q and Roscoe's Root Beer & Ribs.

08042015sokdeeclosedLouprasong opened the Thai restaurant in 2013. In the past two years, his family's Thai food earned him a small but loyal group of fans in Rochester. He said he wants to thank those customers for their business. That's part of what is driving his plan to follow the hot national trend and start up a Sok Dee food truck.

"I have a good following of people. I'd like to start a food truck by early next spring," he said. "This won't be the last time they hear from me."

In 2013, Louprasong, the youngest of 10 siblings, said opening a restaurant was something he's wanted to do, "since my family came to the U.S. in 1979."

He thinks he'll have good luck with a truck — and Sok Dee means, basically, "good luck" in both the Thai and Laotian languages.

Why start a truck instead of looking for a new restaurant location?

"The freedom," said Louprasong. "But eventually, I would like have another sit-down restaurant."