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276 posts categorized "Hotels and lodging"

October 01, 2015

A Mayo Clinic linked firm working with DMC planner to develop new Madison biosciences hub

A firm with deep ties to Mayo Clinic is making a move to anchor a downtown Madison, Wis., biosciences hub with help from the development manager of Rochester's Destination Medical Center initiative.

Exact Sciences Corp. licensed technology from Mayo Clinic in 2009 and 2012 for Cologuard, a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer. The test is based on research by Mayo Clinic's Dr. David A. Ahlquist and his laboratory.

LogoOriginally based in Boston, city officials at one point hoped Exact would move to Rochester. However, Madison gave the company $1 million to move its headquarters there in 2009.

Since then, the company has flourished, and now it's planning to build a new $200 million, 250,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Madison with $46.7 million in financial aid from the city.The Madison City Council recently OKed the deal, which requires that Exact will have 400 employees in the building by 2019.

The developer of the project is JDS Development LLC, which is a joint venture between Hammes Co. and Majestic Realty. Hammes is the Wisconsin consultant that is in charge of DMC. It also is working directly with Mayo Clinic on the Discovery Square portion of the DMC project. Hammes also has been hired by the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau to do a feasibility study for the proposed hockey arena to house a possible US Hockey League team here.

Hammesco_blue_logoHammes' Exact development will include a 250 room hotel, a food court, health and wellness facility, conference and media centers and lots of room for retail and restaurants.

Exact CEO Kevin Conroy told the Madison City Council that, "We hope that by having a life science company headquarters in downtown Madison, it will spur economic development throughout the region and have a positive impact on downtown."

September 09, 2015

Is Shefzilla invading Rochester?

Is a top Twin Cities chef set to trek down to Rochester and start cooking?

It looks that way, i Stewart_woodman_cover_560f media reports are correct.

After 12 years as an award-winning chef at many top Twin Cities eateries, Stewart "Shefzilla" Woodman is coming to the Med City to work as the top food expert at the Kahler Hospitality Group, according to an Eater Minneapolis article.

Woodman is known for launching such Twin Cities foodie spots like Five Restaurant & Street Lounge, Heidi’s and the Workshop. He also is known for his cookbook, "Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home."
Representatives from the Kahler hotels were not available to confirm the reports this morning.

However, an Easter article published last week quoted Woodman as responding to queries about his future with the cryptic message, "Rochester I am going to." The man known as "Shefzilla" had been teasing Twin Cities media with Tweets alluding to his leaving his position at Kaskaid Hospitality.

He had been working at Haskaid overseeing Crave, Urban Eatery, Union and the Workshop since 2014. His last day there was Sept. 4, according to Woodman.

He told Eater that he is taking over management of the culinary operations of the Kahler Grand Hotel and its sister hotels. The Kahler Hospitality Group's restaurants include The Grand Grill, Salute, Martini's, Crossings Bistro, Lord Essex, Freshens and Dunkin Donut.

The Kahler Hospitality Group has been tweaking its restaurants in recent years to keep up with the increasingly competitive Rochester food scene.

Some of Woodman's accolades over the years include being named one of Food & Wines "Best New Chefs" as well as twice being a semifinalist for the best Midwest chef award from the James Beard Foundation.

July 22, 2015

Holiday Inn: Roch.'s downtown hotel to close at end of August

Don't expect to book a room in Rochester's downtown Holiday Inn after Aug 31, according to the hotel chain's national reservation line.

Holiday-inn-rochester-3336465069-4x3An InterContinental Hotels representative on the reservation line said this week that Rochester employees said the 170-room hotel at 220 Broadway Ave. S will close at the end of August. They told the ICH representative the closing is because of the sale of the hotel.

For several months, word has been leaking out about a deal to sell the downtown hotel to an unnamed buyer who is planning to convert the 46-year-old hotel into a senior living facility.

If the buzz is correct, these talks have been going on for quite a while without reaching closure. Now the employees are saying a closure is on the way.

At least for the hotel, if not the real estate deal. 

July 17, 2015

Downtown tower's construction waiting on financing

Construction on a 23-story downtown Rochester tower has yet to begin because the developer has not finalized financing for the project, according to a city official.

In May, the City of Rochester pledged $6.5 million in assistance to developer Gus Chafoulias to build his long-planned $140 million Broadway at Center tower. Chafoulias, with limited assistance from his son Andrew Chafoulias and Titan Development and Investments, has been working on different versions of this project since 2007.

TowerBroadway at Center will house a 264-room Hilton Hotel, 33 apartment units and space for office, retail and restaurant use. More than $14 million — including the city's $6.5 million assistance to the developer and the remainder of infrastructure costs — is planned to be reported as Destination Medical Center local contributions and credited toward the city's $128 million commitment.

The tower is to be built on South Broadway and East Center Street, just north of Broadway Residence and Suites by BridgeStreet. Since early last year, buildings that previously housed CJ's Midtown Lounge, Ginny's Fine Fabrics and Jakobson Management Co. have sat empty on the site. When the tenants were asked to vacate, Titan officials estimated that the buildings would be demolished during the summer of 2014.

When approving the project, the city agreed to work in conjunction with the developers to build an attached public parking ramp. But city officials said they have to wait on final paperwork from Titan Development before construction can start.

"Chafoulias indicated a while back that they are still reviewing some of their financing options for the project, so they have not provided us with that signed development agreement as of yet. I'm anticipating it should be fairly soon," City Redevelopment Director Terry Spaeth said. "I know they are looking at a couple different financing options."

The development agreement includes a number of provisions about vacating an alley, conveying properties and approving easements.

Spaeth said it's estimated it will take 22 months, from start to finish, to build Broadway at Center. The city's portion of the project is expected to take nine to 12 months to complete. The plan is for the city work to be completed to coincide with the opening of the overall project.

"Once they get going, I suspect things will get moving pretty rapidly," he said. "The first step is to get the development assistance agreement signed."

When asked about the status of the Broadway at Center project, Titan Marketing and Communications Manager Sheila Thoma said there wasn't much to report.

"I do not have a new/significant update. The project is still on course. With a major project like this, there are a lot of moving parts and it takes time to solidify all details," she wrote in response to inquiries about when the CJ's and Ginny's Fine Fabrics buildings would be demolished.

On May 4, the city approved a development assistance agreement with Titan about Broadway at Center. The Rochester Economic Development Authority, a board comprised of the seven Rochester City Council members, approved $6.5 million in tax increment financing and land write-downs. The EDA had put its development assistance agreement on hold until the Destination Medical Center Corp. board of directors named Broadway at Center as a DMC project. That happened on April 30.

Broadway at Center is reminiscent of a previous project called Time Square that Gus Chafoulias proposed for that block 15 years ago. When Mayo Clinic opted not to lease office space in the $200 million project, Chafoulias withdrew it in 2000.

"This is the single biggest disappointment of my career," Chafoulias said after making the announcement. "It never feels good when you fail. It didn't work out, but it's not the end of the world."

After Chafoulias withdrew, Dubai-based investors stepped in and built a 26-story tower, the tallest building in Rochester, on that corner. That tower, now known as Broadway Residence and Suites, stands next door to the proposed Broadway at Center project.


May 13, 2015

Rochester hotel purchased for $2.5 million

The financial details of a Rochester hotel sale in April became public this week.

32482210On April 16, the AmericInn Hotel & Suites Rochester, at 7320 Airport View Drive SW was sold to Cary and Laurie Turner's CLT Investments of Prairie Du Chien, Wis. Rochester's Titan Development & Investments sold the hotel, which was built by Titan CEO Andy Chafoulias in 2001.

Olmsted County has now completed the formal processing of the sale. That means the sale price is now available to the public.

CLT Investments paid $2.5 million for the 72-room hotel. 

May 05, 2015

New Fairfield Inn should be complete and open soon

Construction of Rochester's new 91-room, four-story Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel at 510 17th Ave. N.W. has a lot of momentum these days.

05052015fairfield1I'd expect the hotel, which is near the Miracle Mile Shopping Center, to opening the doors in the very near future.

This project is being led by local developers Nick Pompeian and Harshal Patel.

05052015fairfield2The 51,000-square-foot Marriott-brand hotel stands on the former site of the Courtesy Inn at 510 17th Ave. N.W.

The site is near Saint Marys Hospital and the Miracle Mile Shopping Center as well as many restaurants.The four-story Fairfield Inn also will be very visible to the 70,000 to 80,000 vehicles that drive by daily on U.S.  52.

May 01, 2015

Kahler, union contract talks at an impasse

Talks between the Kahler Hotel Group and the union representing most of its employees are at an impasse over health-care benefits and wages.

KHG, which includes four downtown Rochester hotels and the Textile Care Services commercial laundry, has been talking with Unite Here Local 21 since the start of the year. Local 21 represents about 480 KHG employees, including about 250 at the hotels and 200 at TCS.

177-8a6711a9b2b093a4d3be0de7aefc518dDue to a April 14 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board, the hotels and commercial laundry no longer will negotiate as one bargaining unit. That means each will have a separate contract, though the union says the details of the proposed contract and points of contention are very similar for both groups.

The latest contract, which was a six-month extension of a previous three-year contract, ended at the start of March. Since then, the hotels' housekeepers, bartenders, cooks and bellmen, as well as the laundry employees, have been working without a contract.

Local 21 President Brian Brandt and a team of employee representatives met with KHG and Richfield Hospitality executives on Tuesday to discuss the proposed five-year contract. Both sides say no progress was made nor was another meeting scheduled.

"The negotiations broke down very quickly," said Brandt. "They aren't budging even a little bit. They rejected our proposal outright without discussion or explanation of why."

Brandt said Tuesday's talks lasted about a half hour.
Patrick Short, area managing director of operations for Kahler, said "several items" were covered at the meeting.

"At this time, we are not against an additional meeting, but no date has been chosen. We currently are standing by our last proposal offered on March 24," stated Short in an email Tuesday afternoon. The two sides last met on April 16.

Short released a broad outline of KHG's contract proposal with a statement last week.

"In our last best and final offer, we believe we have offered a very competitive package which continues to contain the best package for hospitality workers in the entire city of Rochester," he wrote in an email sent late Thursday afternoon.

Short says KHG is paying for up to 70 percent of the premium costs for the insurance provided to the union associates.

But Brandt responded that the deductibles are too high — more than $4,300 for single and more than $8,500 for plus one and family coverage and no copay on the prescription medications.

On wages, Short said KHG's offer would give 88 percent of the union associates an increase in their hourly rate of pay at the signing of the contract.

The union says while most would get a pay increase, the majority of employees would receive less than 1 percent on signing and less than 5 percent over the next five years. In addition, the offer reduces the step increases at 24, 42 and 60 months.

On the point of wages, Short said the KHG contract offer "does not reduce the hourly rate of pay for any of the union associates, regardless if the associate has been here a year or 30 years."

The union says one group of employees — banquet servers — will see a reduction of income under the KHG contract offer. They no longer will receive any of the service charge the company adds on to customers' bill, which will result in a 50 percent or more pay loss for the servers.

Following Tuesday's meeting, Brandt said Local 21 intends to file a number of charges against KHG of possible violations of federal law with the National Labor Relations Board. The charges include surface bargaining, bad faith bargaining, failing to provide accurate information for negotiations, discriminating against bargaining committee members concerning discipline and job assignments, telling probationary workers to remove union buttons and change in working conditions by removing union notices from bulletin boards.

The question facing both groups now is what comes next in the negotiations.

"We'll definitely be taking more actions and doing the things we need to do to pressure on the company," said Brandt.

Those immediate actions will include more picket lines in front of the Kahler hotels. When asked if those actions could include some sort of strike or work stoppage, he responded, "It's is always an option, without a doubt."

April 17, 2015

Wisconsin couple buys AmericInn hotel

The only hotel near the Rochester International Airport changed hands Thursday, though the original developer didn't completely check out of the business.

The AmericInn Hotel & Suites Rochester, at 7320 Airport View Driuve SW, was purchased by Cary and Laurie Turner's CLT Investments of Prairie Du Chien, Wis. The couple also owns hotels in Prairie Du Chien, La Crosse, Wis., and elsewhere in the region.

352_americinnrochesterairportexteriorThe seller, Rochester's Titan Development & Investments, said it will remain partially invested as a partner in the 16-year-old hotel. However, Titan no longer will be involved in the management of the 72-room hotel.

Financial details of the sale were not released by Titan.

Titan CEO Andy Chafoulias originally built the hotel in 2001 and opened it under the Sleep Inn & Suites brand. The hotel is built on land Chafoulias leased from the city of Rochester.

In 2010, the hotel parted ways with the Sleep Inn name and temporarily became the independent Airport Event Center Hotel.

The hotel joined the AmericInn brand in 2010. While Chafoulias remained an owner, Joe Powers, of the nearby Rochester International Events Center and Ground Round restaurant, and well-known Rochester hotelier Myron Salz, of the Centerstone Plaza Hotel, stepped in as managing investors to run the hotel operations. It employed a staff of about 17 at the time.

Chafoulias said in Thursday's announcement of the sale that selling to the Turners was a good opportunity for Titan, which is busy with many other developments, such as the recently completed H3 Plaza tower in downtown Rochester.

“With the numerous focuses that we have around Rochester and across the country, we felt that it was a good time to sell the AmericInn," Chafoulias stated in the news release. "It’s a great hotel with consistently solid numbers, and we foresee a very successful future for it.”

The new owners have "immediate plans of enhancing the hotel’s exterior and interior," according to Titan.

March 06, 2015

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post. Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my sixth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More  than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to businesPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11s in southeastern Minnesota.

It'syou, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years. 

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post.Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my siPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11xth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to business in southeastern Minnesota.

It's you, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years.