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July 22, 2014

Bea's Kahler group reaches beyond Rochester's downtown

The Kahler Hospitality Group, the Rochester company led by Javon Bea, is checking out the hotel market beyond downtown.

15344_b1The local buzz for weeks has been that the Kahler group, which owns four hotels in downtown Rochester, is taking the reins at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center at 1517 16th St. S.W.

While neither the KHG leadership nor Ramada team officially have admitted it, a recent Kahler email about catering changes seems to confirm that the hotels are now linked.

A mass email sent Monday by the Kahler group's new catering director included the Ramada logo among its hotel brands and it specifically pointed out that the Kahler's new policy opening its event spaces to outside caterers does not include the Ramada Hotel.

Chef Pasquale Presa, the Kahler's executive director of food and beverage operations, also includes the Ramada in the list of hotels under his management on his professional LinkedIn page. Local contractors also say that the Kahler group is talking to local builders about contracting for work on the Ramada complex.

The big unanswered question is whether the Kahler Hospitality Group has purchased the hotel from Rochester developers Dan and Terri Penz or if KHG has been contracted just to manage the Ramada facility.

No matter which is correct, the Kahler's involvement with the Ramada signals a major change for both organizations.

The Penzes also own the adjacent T.J. Maxx Shopping Center and Elcor Construction as well as other Rochester properties and businesses. They bought the hotel in January 2002 and changed its brand from Best Western to Ramada in 2004.

In 2011, the Penzes closed their hotel restaurant called Teresa's. That cleared the way for Joe Powers and his Powers Ventures firm to create new convention space within the hotel. At about the same time, Jim Nicholas leased space to open Wildwood Sports Bar in the Ramada complex. It's unclear what kind of impact, if any, the Kahler involvement in the hotel could have on the Powers and Wildwood operations.

On the other end of the deal, the Kahler Hospitality Group is a collection of five unidentified investors who bought the Kahler Grand Hotel, the Kahler Inn & Suites, the Marriott Rochester, the Residence Inn and the Textile Care Services industrial laundry for $230 million in 2012. Javon Bea, of Oronoco, is the well known public face of the organization.

In 2013, the Kahler group hired the Colorado-based Richfield Hospitality to manage the downtown hotels.

July 17, 2014

New plan: Newt's at Crossroads

After years in limbo, a plan to build a restaurant/bar in front of Rochester's Crossroads Shopping Center once again is moving ahead.

However, it won't be the long anticipated Buffalo Wild Wings. Instead, it'll be the latest version of Rochester's iconic eatery, Newt's.

Rochester restaurateurs David and Mark Currie are working on plans to build Newt's South as their ninth local restaurant. Their Creative Cuisine restaurants are the original downtown Newt's, the City Cafe, City Market Deli Downtown, City Market Deli South, the Redwood Room, 300 First, Newt's Express and Newt's North.

The project is in its early stages, so it may be a while before construction starts on the large rectangle of dirt and grass.

"If I could break ground today, I would," said David Currie, who owns and runs Creative Cuisine with his brother. "But I'm going to say it will be in the six-month range before it really gets going."

The sibl07162014bbwsignings are buying the site between the Andy's Liquor store and Home Federal Savings Bank from Tom Graf. Graf originally had hoped to build Rochester's second Buffalo Wild Wings there, but a series of legal disputes over parking eventually quashed that plan. The development plan, approved by the city, called for extending BWW's parking onto Crossroads property to have the required number of spaces.

Parking shouldn't be an issue for the new Newt's project because it will be smaller than Graf's proposed BWW. That means the restaurant and all of the required parking should both fit on the island of land in the Crossroads parking lot.

"I thought the Curries could make the best use of the space with the size of what they want to put on it," said Graf. "At the end of the day, it's a win for the shopping center."

07162014newtssouth1The first generation of Creative Cuisine dates to the 1960s with Jerry Zubay and Mike Currie, the father of Dave and Mark. Building a ninth restaurant will add to an already full plate for the brothers.

"The business is a lot of fun. We both love it and enjoy it. We're blessed to work with a ton of great people. That makes it super enjoyable," said Dave Currie of why they decided to open a new place.

Creative Cuisine employs 141 people. The Curries estimate Newt's South will need 20 to 30 employees.

This will be the first time the Curries have opted to construct a new building rather than adapt and renovate an existing site. They had shopped for a south Rochester spot for about a year before the Crossroads deal worked out.

"Building from the ground up took a lot more thought going into it. We're used to finding a 100-year-old building and then working with it," said David Currie.

They plan to build a restaurant similar in look and size to the quirky Newt's North location, which opened in 2011 inside the Wallin Building at 5231 U.S. 52 Frontage Road N.W.

The genesis for the project dates to 2011, when Graf purchased Tasos Psomas' Pannekoeken Huis restaurant and demolished it to make way for a second Rochester BWW.

Even though Graf decided "it just made sense" to have the Curries build on the site, it doesn't mean he's abandoning his own restaurant plans.

"There will eventually be another Buffalo Wild Wings in Rochester. It will happen. The city's big enough for at least one more," he said.

July 14, 2014

Ex-Pump & Munch to make way for new Caribou Coffee shop

More caffeine is on its way through Rochester's development pipeline.

A long-empty ex-BP Pump & Munch building at 451 16th Ave. N.W. is slated to be cleared away to make room for a new Caribou Coffee shop in northwest Rochester.

16thavepumpandmunchThe 1,804-square-foot stand-alone Caribou Coffee shop is planned for the high-profile spot, which will give the Minnesota coffee company access to both Civic Center Drive Northwest and the increasingly busy 16th Avenue North. The sit-down shop also will have a drive-through window.

Site plans still are working their way through official channels, but Mona Keehn says the hope is for the demolition and construction to begin yet this year.

Rick and Mona Keehn, who also own the Cariboucoffeedrawingadjacent Automotive Procare, bought the 3,000-square-foot building in 2011 for more than $730,000. They had hoped to find a tenant to lease it.

"We just couldn't find a good match," said Mona Keehn. "And then this came up."

042909pumpmunchBPciviccenter1jkIn the summer of 2009, all six of Rochester's BP Pump & Munch c-stores closed their doors for good. Since then, five of those buildings have either been re-purposed or demolished.

However, the 16th Avenue Pump & Munch has stood pretty much as it did in 2009. And now it will give up its spot for a new place for Rochester's growing population to grab a cup of coffee.

July 01, 2014

Mayo Clinic-linked Cardio3 making push into China

Cardio3 BioSciences, a Belgium company working closely with Mayo Clinic, recently launched a joint venture in China, the third largest pharmaceutical market in the world.

Cardiobioscience_jpegWorking with Hong Kong-based Medisun International Limited, it created Cardio3 BioSciences Asia Holdings Ltd. to make a serious push into China. As part of the deal, Medisun purchased $34 million in stock. It now owns 8 percent of the company's outstanding shares.

Cardio3 is publicly listed on the European stock markets NYSE Euronext Brussels and NYSE Euronext Paris, though it is not traded publicly in the U.S. Get_photo

The company says that $34 million will finance the U.S. clinical trials for C-Cure, Cardio3's regenerative heart treatment. Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy flew to Rochester in January for a press conference at Mayo Clinic to announce that U.S. trial. Mayo Clinic in Rochester is one of the trial sites. Homsy gave a tentative time line of commercialization in Europe possibly by 2017 and by 2018 in the U.S.

Medisun has also committed to buy an additional $34 million shares of Cardio3 stock from existing shareholders in the next eight month at a price per share equivalent to the 10 days average preceding the offer.

This new deal means Medisun's ownership of Cardio3 has quickly leapfrogged Mayo Clinic's investment. As of June 16, Mayo Clinic owned 5.05 percent of the available shares of Cardio3. Medisun had just 4.21 percent at that point. As of June 25, Mayo Clinic controlled 3.1 percent of the shares.

Mayo Clinic researchers Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar originally developed the proprietary process of regenerating heart tissue with stem cells drawn from a patient's own bone marrow. Since 2007, Cardio3 has licensed patents and related research from Mayo Clinic. Terzic and Behfar each have a financial interest in the company.

Homsy has previously stated that he hopes to eventually base a few employees in Rochester for office and laboratory work. Cardio3 previously attempted to open a U.S. headquarters here, but that fizzled when the one person based here left.

Many consider what Cardio3 is attempting as the "holy grail" of cardiac treatments. Terzic previously described repairing faulty hearts as a "major unmet need worldwide." He estimated about one-third of all deaths stem from heart disease.

To date, the promising company has raised $121 million in equity and capital.

A recent study also estimated that the global market for such treatments could grow to $18.2 billion by 2019. The U.S. market was valued at $6.1 billion in 2012, with potential to increase to $8.49 billion by 2019.

“With this presence in Greater China, we are very proud to become the first global player in the field of cardiac regenerative medicines, aiming to commercialize our leading edge cell therapy to patients all across the globe,” stated Cardio Chairman Michel Lussier in the announcement of the venture.

Medisun Chairman Danny Wong says that his company is organizing medical conventions in August "to promote cell based medicines as well as Cardio3’s technology" in both Beijing and Shanghai.

"We are passionate about this project and I am certain that our involvement with Cardio3 as a leader in this field, combined with our local knowledge of the regulatory, healthcare and market access capabilities and expertise, will bring success to all the parties involved,” said Wong.

All the costs of Cardio3's moves in China will be funded by Medisun, with a minimum of $27 million committed during a three year period. Cardio 3 has 40 percent ownership in the joint venture, which will drop to 30 percent when clinical trials are up and running.

Success of the Phase III clinical trials that allow Cardio3 to market C-Cure in Asia would trigger  royalties ranging between 20 and 30 percent of net sales depending on total revenue of the joint venture.

June 30, 2014

Consultants hired to create DMC blueprint w/ FULL CONTRACTS

Here's some of the lead-in to my package from the weekend about the $4.1 million  contracts for the consultants to create the Destination Medical Center plan to re-make Rochester.

There's a lot more detail in the rest of the package. So if you are interested in this topic, I'd suggest reading the full piece.

And for the document wonks out there like me, here's the 251 page PDF that includes all of the contracts with Nelson / Nygaard Consulting Associates of San Francisco; Kimley-Horn and Associates of Cary, N.C.; AECOM Technical Services of Los Angeles; and EE&K of New York.

Download Combined Consulting Agreements EDA(1)

 

---------------

Planning for a complex initiative like Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center doesn't come cheaply.

The surge of DMC hype already has national and international businesses fluttering around Rochester's sudden glow. The sale of commercial real estate is booming, particularly in the downtown core. New housing developments are being mapped out for the tens of thousands of people expected to move to Rochester for the forecasted 35,000 to 45,000 new jobs.

51687d3f5e0c6-image However, there's no blueprint yet for the $6 billion upgrade of the city's infrastructure, transportation systems, private development and more that's at the heart of DMC's vision of a Rochester better suited to accommodate more patients for Mayo Clinic.

Hiring a team to create a detailed plan for the massive undertaking to change the face of the city was a top priority for the public Destination Medical Center Corp. board of directors.

Public-private projects on this scale are rare in U.S., so there are not many examples to follow. National experts say sports developments, like the $975 million Vikings stadium and the new $622 million Atlanta Braves stadium, are about the only comparable projects to what is being proposed in Rochester.

The DMCC contracted with the DMC private Economic Development Agency, led by Mayo Clinic's Lisa Clarke, to handle hiring consultants to create the overall DMC "development plan." In December, the EDA board posted requests for proposal for six roles in the planning process.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upWith so much money on the table, proposals came in from 19 leading firms across the country and even overseas. Five of the teams vying for the contracts are based in Minnesota with three of them having offices in Rochester.

In April, the EDA wrapped up that six-month hiring process by contracting with four national consulting firms. Two were chosen to fill dual roles.

All of the consultants have had experience in major public-private projects, from stadiums to transit systems to airports.

Those four, plus another company hired in February, will be paid a total of $4.1 million this year to create the DMC's grand plan by February. That $4.1 million accounts for almost half of the DMC's total city-funded budget of $8.2 million for 2014.

In the end, all of the Minnesota hopefuls were passed over for the DMC planning jobs.

"The main factors that influenced our decisions was experience, knowledge of the market and the team they put forward. Those were the basic components we needed to consider as we moved forward," said Clarke. "I'm very confident that we have hired the best."

June 27, 2014

Mayo Clinic still mum on SE Rochester building

There's no question that an unmarked 22,000-square-foot commercial center is being built in south Rochester's Shoppes on Maine area.

The question is what will it be used for when completed?

The half-completed gray and blue building at 4544 Canal Place S.E. stands at the corner of Canal Place and Maine Avenue Southeast.

06262014mayoclinicsoutheastIt's described as "Future Mayo Clinic Southeast" in city building permits dating back to April. However, Mayo Clinic isn't acknowledging any involvement.

"We don’t have anything to share at this time. When we do — I’ll certainly let you know" is how Rebecca F. Eisenman of Mayo Clinic Communications responded to questions on June 18.

In April, Eisenman did acknowledge that Mayo Clinic is interested in the 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," she wrote. "Future options may include expansion of facilities and services in southeast Minnesota, but no specific details are available at this time."

The owner of the project is Canal Place Pointe Inc., which is based nearby at Suite 200 of 4325 Maine Avenue. That's also the address of the office of Maine Street Development Co. Tom Hexum, who manages the Maine Street Development projects with partner Ron Schultz from that office, filed the original land development application for the building. He says it's owned by a group of local investors, though he is not part of that group.

Hexum describes the building as a Mayo Clinic project.

Building permits show that just the structural shell of the Canal Place Pointe complex is valued at $1.4 million. There is a half-circle drive under an 880-square-foot canopy in front that would be handy for a medical facility. The parking lot features 109 parking spaces.

The whole facility, being built by Benike Construction, is on two acres of land. The local design firm SEH-Yaggy, formerly known as Yaggy Colby Associates, planned the project.

June 26, 2014

Knutson lands $17.3M contract to upgrade Rochester MnDOT complex

A Minnesota construction firm with a large Rochester-based office and team won the $17.3 million contract to renovate the MnDOT District 6 headquarters.

Minneapolis-based Knutson Construction was chosen last week as the "best value" contractor for the third phase of the major upgrade of the MnDOT and State Highway Patrol facilities at 2900 48th St. N.W.

MnDOT_Rendering-600x330Knutson will add a new 911 call center, a new data area, a lab to test road materials as well as conference rooms and offices to the older MnDOT building. Plans also call for installing solar panels and a new mezzanine.

Construction is slated to start on July 14 and should wrap up in October 2015, said Knutson senior project manager Derek O’Connor.

The construction team will be led by O’Connor. Others working on the project include: superintendent Sean Dols, assistant project engineer Mike Johnson, and project assistant Amy Jansen.

"We are excited to continue our relationship with MnDOT,” stated Dave Bastyr, Knutson's executive vice president of Minnesota operations.

Knutson was also in charge of the second of this District 6 project, construction of a new 122,000-square-foot maintenance facility, in 2011 to 2012. That was a $19.8 million contract for that phase.

In the past four years, Knutson has won 13 such best value contracts, including building the new City of Rochester Fire Station #2. It will replace the current one by Silver Lake. The new $7.7 million emergency center is being built on Viola Road in the Century Heights area. It's expected to be ready to use by February 2015.

Knutson opened its Rochester office in 1997, though it has a long history working on high-profile projects here. It built the original IBM facility in 1956 as well as Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building, the Ronald McDonald House and Hope Lodge.

June 25, 2014

Mayo Clinic-linked NeoChord gets new leader

An Eden Prairie company that makes a medical device based on Mayo Clinic research named a new leader this week for the first time since it launched in 2007.

NeoheartNeoChord announced that David H. Chung was appointed as president and CEO, "effective immediately." He replaced John Seaberg, who resigned.

“David Chung’s extensive experience in building and managing international sales forces will be invaluable, as we introduce NeoChord’s innovative technology to patients throughout Europe,” said Dr. Michael Fulton, Neochord's chairman of the board.

For the past seven years, the company has been developing a device designed by Mayo Clinic cardiac surgeons Dr. Richard Daly and Dr. Giovanni Speziali. Beside licensing its technology, Mayo Clinic also is invested in an equity position in the firm. Speziali was named as the company's chief medical officer in 2013.

The NeoChord DS1000 device is used to treat a heart condition called mitral regurgitation. Mitral regurgitation means the valve or leaflet that controls the flow of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle is not working properly.

Portfolio-neochord-260x138Treatment typically consists of “cracking the chest,” stopping the heart and doing surgery. NeoChord's approach is much less invasive and can be done on a beating heart. A tool is inserted between the ribs and into the heart. Then it is used to attach a chord to the faulty valve leaflet, which is tethered to the heart.

The former CEO Seaburg described the process as “a very elegant treatment."

A Transapical Artificial Chordae Tendinae (TACT) trial is underway to evaluate the NeoChord DS1000. The system now is being used to treat patients in 18 hospitals across eight countries in Europe. More than 120 patients have been treated. It is not yet cleared for commercial use in the U.S.

The market for less invasive techniques for mitral valve repair has been estimated at more than $2 billion. There are 50,000 surgeries done in the U.S. each year. An estimated 2 million patients are treated due to the risks of surgery.

Since it formed in 2007, NeoChord's lifeblood has been venture capital funding. By 2008, it had raised $3 million. It raised another $5.1 million in 2011 to finance the European clinical trial. In March 2013, it raised $3 million through the sale of its series B-2 preferred stock.

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

June 23, 2014

Rochester's Dunkin' Donuts to open at end of month

Doughnuts should be dunking before the fireworks start launching.

Rochester's new Dunkin' Donuts, the first to operate in Minnesota since 2005, is prepping for a late June "soft" opening. The return of DD is happening at 15 First Ave. S.W. in the Kahler Grand Hotel complex in the heart of downtown.

06232014dunkindonuts"We're in good shape," says Donna Caflisch, who represents Rochester Retail Services. "We're working hard on training now to make sure we're ready with good customer service."

So if you smell doughnuts in downtown during the next few weeks, it probably won't be your imagination. The staff is rolling through lots of training batches.

While Caflisch already has a full team of about 30 employees on staff, she says they still are hiring people that help with DD or other projects. Rochester Retail Services also manages the new Freshens franchise in the Kahler Inn & Suites and is working on a second one in the subway of the Marriott Hotel. That second Freshens could open its doors, if everything goes according to plan, in early August. It's located in the space that last housed the long-time downtown shop, The Crate.

She says the early responses to recent opened Freshens in the Kahler Inn have been very positive.

"People seem to be excited to see some variety in their (downtown) menu choices," said Caflisch.

When asked about speculation that a second Dunkin' is being planned for southeast Rochester, she said she couldn't comment.

While all of the franchises managed by Rochester Retail Services are located in downtown hotels owned by the Kahler Hospitalty Group and the firm offices in the Kahler, Caflisch stressed that there is absolutely no direct connection between any of the owners of the Kahler hotels and the owners of the restaurant franchises. However, she declined to identify who actually owns the franchises.

Rochester's Dunkin' Donuts franchisee, Donuts Non Traditional LLC, incorporated in October 2014. The address it uses is Rochester's Dunlap & Seeger law firm. That's the same address used for Rochester Retail Services, which incorporated in March 2013. It's not unusual for some companies to use their attorneys' address for such filings.