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2956 posts categorized "Follow-up"

November 18, 2015

After demolition, what next for Ronald McDonald House project?

Rochester's Ronald McDonald House plans to demolish two apartment buildings on Second Street Southwest to make way for a possible future project.

Demolition permits were filed for the apartment buildings at 806 and 812 Second St. SW, just east of the Ronald McDonald House at 850 Second St. SW. The nonprofit McDonald House acquired the buildings in January in conjunction with Mayo Clinic, which is partnering on the deal.

564c8711dd9b4.imageThe 35-year-old Ronald McDonald House provides housing for children and their families who are in Rochester for medical treatment at Mayo Clinic. It can house up to 42 families at one time. In 2014, it served 795 families, but had to turn 1,071 families away.

The facility's last expansion was 11 years ago.

"Our Board of Trustees is committed to serving more families," according to Marit Williams, the Ronald McDonald House's communications and community relations coordinator. However, she would not say if the demolition will make way for a future expansion.

"We are committed to serving more families, and in order to allow us to continue focusing on the best possible way to do that, we do not have any expansion-specific information to share publicly at this time," Williams wrote in response to inquiries. "The land is intended to help us continue providing a home-away-from-home and caring support for more families in the future. There are no commercial development plans."

Whatever the future holds, the next step in the project is to knock down the two 1960s brick apartment complexes. Williams confirmed both buildings now are empty of tenants.

"We do not have a firm date for the demolition, but we expect this activity to happen in early winter," she wrote in a recent email.

Both buildings were officially acquired on Jan. 30. The 812 Second Street Street property was purchased by the Ronald McDonald House in a pair of separate deals for $825,500 and $137,500. 

A similar series of transactions occurred for the 806 Second Street building. The Ronald McDonald House paid the estate of John T. Oliphant estate $890,000 on Jan. 2, 2014.

Mayo Clinic then paid the Ronald McDonald House $1 million for both properties on Jan. 30 of this year, according to Olmsted County Property Record.Both the Ronald McDonald House and Mayo Clinic are listed as owners of both apartment complexes.

November 11, 2015

Sushi Nishiki goes dark … temporarily?

Rochester sushi fans noticed last week that the door was locked, the knives were put up and the lights were out at Sushi Nishiki.

11112015sushinishiskiHowever, it might not be the end of the Crouching Tiger roll or the Crazy Monkey roll.

A sign in the window says the closure is only temporary.

Word is the business at 2854 41st NW might be closed just as part of a transition to a new owner. However, no one is discussing details of the deal, because the sale is reportedly still being hashed out.

Lawrence Wong and Sammi Loo originally opened Sushi Nishiki in the Northwest Plaza, near IBM's hungry campus, in 2008.
In 2011, they also opened Impiana Kitchen and Sushi Bar at 318 S. Broadway — the former home of Sushi Itto/Katz's. Impiana Kitchen didn't find a niche on Broadway and it closed in 2013. 

Mango Thai
 soon moved into that spot and started cooking.

Insiders say that a similar change in owners is the story behind the Sushi Nishiki closure. I'll keep an eye on this to watch what happens next, because that's the way I roll. Heh.


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 09, 2015

Which Frontage Road restaurant building sold? Not the one you'd think.

While the empty restaurant next door is the one with a "For Sale" sign out front, it's Rochester's northwest Pizza Hut that recently sold for $1 million.

PRN10-PIZZA-HUT-LOGO-1y-4-1-1-1HighThe 29-year-old brick restaurant at 2001 U.S. 52 North Frontage Road was purchased by ERFK LTD of San Antonio, Texas on Oct. 28. It purchased the property, presumably as an investment, from San Antonio, Texas-based Muy Brands.

Given Muy's $168,000 investment in making over the building in early 2014, it seems likely that Pizza Hut will keep cooking there under the new landlord.

Muy Brands, one of the largest Pizza Hut franchisees in the U.S., acquired the three Rochester Pizza Huts as part of the purchase deal with Sky Ventures of Golden Valley. Sky Ventures sold 54 Pizza Huts to Muy at the end of 2013.

The Frontage Road Pizza Hut sold for $986,733. The Pizza Hut that shared a building with Taco Bell at 4000 Marketplace Drive NW closed this summer.

Muy also owns the Pizza Hut location at 840 S Broadway.

Now that this deal is done, it seems a safe bet that the next sale in the area will be right next to Pizza Hut.

The ex-McDonald's restaurant next door to the Frontage Road Pizza Hut has been empty and up for sale, since it moved to the new McDonald's restaurant by Costco, off 19th Street Northwest.

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 26, 2015

How about owning a Dunkin' Donuts shop?

Want to own a Dunkin' Donuts shop in Rochester?

The Massachusetts doughnut maker is making a major push into Minnesota with 24 new locations planned in the Twin Cities area. But its plans don't end at the metro area's boundaries.

Dunkin' is also looking for a new franchisee to open about five more shops in Rochester.

06232014dunkindonutsRochester Retail Services, a division of the Kahler Hospitality Services hotel group, opened a shop here in June 2014 at 15 First Ave. SW in the Kahler Grand Hotel complex in the heart of downtown. It was the first one in Minnesota since 2005. Dunkin' said then that Rochester Retail Services would be opening five more shops in the next few years.

Dunkin' Donuts Senior Director of Franchising Patrick Cunningham says that plan has now changed.

"Rochester Retail Services, the franchisee of record, will continue to own and operate the existing restaurant in the Kahler. However, they will not develop more Dunkin' stores as we previously reported," he said on Friday. "At this point, (Rochester) is open for more entrepreneurs. We're seeking franchisee candidates for Rochester, Mankato and southern Minnesota." 

Cunningham said he couldn't comment on how sales have been for the Kahler's Dunkin' shop, since it opened last year with 40 employees.

Patrick Short, Kahler Hospitality's managing director of operations, said the Rochester shop is doing well.

"Dunkin sales are steady with visitors to downtown Rochester and to Mayo employees. There are currently 18 employees, but I understand that they are looking for more counter help in the store just like many other businesses in Rochester today," he wrote in response to questions last week.

October 20, 2015

Google brings its delivery service to Rochester

Searching for next day delivery service in Rochester?

The world's largest search engine might be the answer.

Google Express launched service in the Rochester area this morning, which is its first foray in Minnesota.

"We want to make users lives easier and help out merchants reach more customers," said Google Express' General Manager Brian Elliot. "We have crazy busy lives these days. This is about giving you back some time."

Google-ExpressMountain View, Calif.-based search engine company Google launched Google Express two years ago to expand its commerce arm, offering an alternative to Amazon Prime.

Elliot's example is parents who have a kid's birthday party and are signed up to provide snacks for the soccer teams. Elliott says at long as the orders are made by 5 p.m. the day before, Google Express can deliver the next day.

However, don't expect to see any delivery trucks pull up with "Google Express" on the side. Unlike regional distribution centers used by Amazon or UPS, Google Express works directly with retailers and contracts with local courier services.

It has deals with 18 merchants like Whole Foods, Costco, Staples,Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble, PetSmart, Walgreens and more. The retailers put their available products out on Google Express' online catalog. Consumers chose what they want. The store packages it up and a courier delivers it.

Google Express, which has been running this new service in areas like Chicago and San Francisco, offers an annual membership for $95. Members get free overnight shipping on most items, as long they meet the store's minimum order requirements of $15. There's $3 service fee for orders that don't meet the minimum levels.

For non-members, delivery costs start at $4.99 per store for eligible orders. The fee for orders under the minimum sizes is $3, the same as members.

While Google Express is introducing this service in the Rochester area, it is not covering Minneapolis or St. Paul yet.

"We got up to Rochester, but to the Twin Cities. We'd love to get there. Over time, I'd expect we will," said Elliot. "It's a sort of a one-step at a time project."

He explained that Rochester is closer to Google Express' Midwest hub of Chicago and the retailers here have the capacity to offer the service.

Of course, the big target here for Google is its tech rival, Amazon.

During a recent European trip, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, outlined the rivalry.

“Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon," he said. "People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon.”

There is a lot at stake in the growing delivery market. It is currently a  $10.9 billion industry, which is expected to grow by of 9.6 percent by 2019. The U.S. market for same day delivery, which Google Express offers in San Francisco and Chicago, is predicted to swell to $4.03 billion by 2018.

October 19, 2015

Does Mayo Clinic + ex-US Postal center = dirty laundry?

Is dirty laundry in the mix as Mayo Clinic figures out how to use the ex-U.S. Postal Service facility it bought in July?

The buzz in the local spin cycle is that Mayo Clinic might convert the 72,662-square-foot facility at 3939 Valleyhigh Drive into a commercial laundry. Right now, Mayo Clinic contracts with the Kahler Hospitality Group's Textile Care Services to clean the mountains of dirty linen it produces every day.

FireShot Capture - 3676 Valleyhigh Dr NW - Google Maps_ - original Kahler Hotel owners and Mayo Clinic started TCS in 1918 as a joint operation. Mayo Clinic pulled out of ownership in 1996 and has contracted with Textile Care ever since.

Officials at Textile Care had no comment on the rumor. Mayo Clinic didn't really answer the question, but it did offer up a cryptic statement.

6a00d83451cc8269e2014e889d360b970d-800wi"No decisions have been made regarding use of the former U.S. Postal building. Mayo Clinic has an agreement with Textile Care Services that extends into 2018 and potentially longer," wrote Mayo's Kelley Luckstein in an email.

So … does that mean maybe? I guess it'll all eventually come out in the wash.

October 16, 2015

Rochester's ProBuild to pack up on Monday

A large building supplier in Rochester announced this week it is closing its doors on Monday.

The manager of ProBuild sent out letters to customers on Thursday saying the large construction operation along U.S. 14 West at 2953 Wilder Road N.W. is closing "effective Oct. 19."

No one at ProBuild or at its corporate office would confirm the closing on Thursday. The operation has an estimated 8 to 10 employees.

6a00d83451cc8269e2010535cefa84970b-320wiThe letter was sent by Dave Mills, ProBuild's area manager based in the Twin Cities.

Mills wrote that ProBuild made the decision to close "After careful review of the market conditions and our operational footprint in Rochester …"

The letter said ProBuild's sites in Mankato, Lakeville and Waseca will take over coverage of the Rochester market. ProBuild has about 30 locations in Minnesota.

The move comes just two months after Colorado-based ProBuild was acquired by rival Builders FirstSource for $1.6 billion. Builders FirstSource, headquartered in Dallas, said the combined company is expected to have annual revenues of about $6.1 billion.

Before it became part of a billion dollar deal, the Rochester construction supplier was a United Building Center. UBC was started in 1855 in Winona by three brothers,  William, Matthew and John Laird.

ProBuild acquired all of the UBC locations in 2006, and the ProBuild name went up on the Rochester site in 2008.

In July 2014, ProBuild closed its Austin lumber yard. It had eight on staff when it closed.