News Business Sports Entertainment Life Obituaries Opinion
Jobs Homes Cars Classifieds Shopping
Local Bloggers Cheap Tech Eco-Confessions Faceoff Furst Draft Heard on the Street Med City Movie Guy Pulse on Health Political Party

Search PB Blogs

Loading

Categories

2175 posts categorized "In print"

July 24, 2015

A new burger chain plans to 'smash' into Rochester

Could the flames of Rochester's always simmering burger wars soon flare up from the heat of competition?

Possibly. Another national gourmet burger chain is planning to smash into the Rochester market.

Smashburger, a trendy burger juggernaut, is expanding rapidly its footprint across the U.S. and now Rochester is on its radar. The chain is known for "smashing" its fresh hamburger patties to sear in flavor.

Bigburger_situational_960x394_home_page-cactusSmashburger Marketing Manager Christine Ferris said they hope to be cooking in Rochester by late March 2016.

"To answer your question, we do have a site picked out according to our real estate sheet and it’s going to be a corporate restaurant, not franchise. It looks like the projected opening date is for late March of 2016," she wrote in answer to an inquiry about their plans.

This could bring a competitor into a city already dominated by hometown favorite and local burger champion Newt's.

In 2009, Five Guys Burgers arrived and threw down the burger battle gauntlet. Newt's has kept its title as the top burger power, but plenty of skirmishes continue between Five Guys, Culvers and the usual lineup of fast-food suspects.

SmashBurger_logoReaders have been clamoring for burger specialists White Castle, Red Robin and/or Sonic Drive-in for many years, but none of those players have ever gotten serious about cooking in the Med City.

The Denver, Colo.-based company already has 13 restaurants in Minnesota and is ready to start construction on a new one in Shakopee, according to an article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal this week.

If Smashburger does open in Rochester in March, it will be the first new big national name to jump into the local fray, since Five Guys arrived six years ago. 

July 22, 2015

Dirt is moving for NW Rochester development

Dirt is moving in northwest Rochester for a new commercial development area. 

Edina-based New Era Development is starting to prepare its Creekside Development on the southwest corner of the intersection of 19th Street Northwest and West Circle Drive. 

XAerial_-Creekside-2011.8.3-005-e1432657863387-750x410.jpg.pagespeed.ic.F6OkG5ifGbNo businesses have yet been announced for the build-to-suit development. Plans show an entrance from 19th Street Northwest and streets within the Creekside area.

The marketing brochure for Creekside lists the build-to-suit opportunities as including retail, office and flex office space. Available lot sizes range from 1.13 acre to 4.22 acres.

New Era first proposed Creekside in the fall of 2007, just before the economic recession. Earlier this year, the firm updated its plans and began marketing the project.

Plans show a development that could grow into something very similar to the 100-acre commercial area anchored by Costco, Associated Bank, Aldi and Kwik Trip on the northeast corner of the same intersection.

The Radichel family, of Mankato, which is behind Venstar LLC and its affiliate, New Era, has owned the land for about 30 years.

In 2007, former Venstar President Nino Pedrelli told the Rochester City Planning and Zoning Commission that, “We are long-term holders, and right now the project is a go for us."

Venstar and New Era also own the Valley High Business Center buildings, Phase I and Phase II, at 3535 40th Ave. NW, and the Cascade Park commercial center on Ninth Street Northwest, behind Kwik Trip. — Jeff Kiger

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

Third Avenue real estate sale was largest in June

A large Rochester engineering and design office on Third Avenue Southeast was recently purchased by a local company for $6.27 million.

The SEH-Yaggy complex at 717 Third Ave. S.E. sold on June 30 to 717 Third LLC. The sale was made with two transactions.YCA Building Rochester LLC sold its portion for $3.76 million and RY Building LLC sold its part for $2.51 million, according to the sale records.

FireShot Capture - 293 6 1_2 St SE - Google Maps_ - https___www.google.com_maps_@44.0162The combined deal was the largest local real estate sale in June. The next largest transaction for the month took place on June 5, when Wisconsin-based developer Continental 326 Fund LLC purchased land in southeast Rochester for $2.6 million to build the city's first gated housing community.

No individual names were listed on the Olmsted County documents. However, 717 Third LLC receives its tax bills at 123 Carlton St. SW, which is also the headquarters of Elcor Construction. Elcor is owned by Rochester developer, business owner and real estate investor Dan Penz.

DLP LLC, which has the same address of 123 Carlton St. SW, also purchased a warehouse facility in the same area at 1945 Third Ave. SE for $695,000.00 on June 16.

SEH-Yaggy was formerly known as Yaggy Colby Associates until the long-time Rochester firm merged with St. Paul-based Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. in June 2014. 

CRW Architecture-Design Group, formerly part of Yaggy Colby, moved out of the complex last fall to take up residence its new offices at 211 11th Ave NW.

When the merger occurred the 717 Third complex remained under the ownership of some of the Yaggy principals.

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.

 

July 14, 2015

Rochester engineering firm merges with Minneapolis company

A 14-year-old Rochester engineering firm is merging with a large Twin Cities-based company.

Structural Design Group officially will become part of Meyer Borgman Johnson on Wednesday, said Al Hiniker, who founded the well-known firm in 2001. Both focus solely on structural engineering, which is in great demand during Rochester's development boom.

FireShot Capture - Structural Engineer Rochester, MN - Structural Design Gr_ - http___www.sdgmn.com_Clients won't see any change with the five-person team at Structural Design's office at 3270 19th Street NW, though the name over the door will change to Meyer Borgman Johnson. Hiniker also will stay on as the managing principal of the office.

"This will give us a lot more resources we didn't have before," said Hiniker. "My goal has been to grow. And MBJ's goal has been to have a presence in Rochester. This accomplishes both. It's a win-win."

This will be MBJ's third Minnesota office. It also has locations in Green Bay, Wis. and Phoenix, Ariz. with a total of 80 employees on staff.

"We've had experience in Rochester for many years," said Jason Pederson, MBJ's managing director. "We recognize Rochester as a vibrant and growing marketplace, even beyond DMC (Destination Medical Center.)"

MBJ has worked on Rochester facilities including Mayo Clinic's Dan Abrahams Healthy Living Center and Titan Development'sH3 Plaza on South Broadway.

"I've known Al for quite a while. This seemed like a very natural conversation," said Pederson. "We're just delighted with this."

Hiniker recalled that "the seeds" of this deal began at least two years ago.

While many construction-related firms have acquired a foothold in Rochester with similar deals with local businesses, Structural Design and MBJ are unique in one way. Instead of offering services ranging from architecture to electrical engineering to landscaping, they both have a laser-like focus solely on structural engineering.

This merger follows several similar ones that have occurred, since Mayo Clinic's DMC initiative was announced.

Rochester's Allman & Associates, Inc., a mechanical and electrical engineering firm led by Jeff Allman, merged with LKPB Engineers in January. Yaggy Colby Associates merged with the larger Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. last year. Rochester'sMcGhie & Betts Inc. merged Minneapolis-based WSB & Associates in 2013. Kane and Johnson Architects, a small firm with a 63-year history in Rochester and Austin, merged with Crookston-based Widseth Smith Nolting in 2014.

 

July 10, 2015

Jersey Jo's is open and selling Philly cheesesteaks

In case you missed it yesterday, Jersey Jo's is now officially open for business in Rochester.

This is Joe Phillips' new East Coast flavored restaurant, just a couple of blocks from Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys Hospital. It's located at 187 16th Ave. SW in the Shoppes on Second commercial center spot that was last occupied by Cousin’s Subs. Cousin's closed and sold its equipment to Phillips.09072015jerseyjos

Jersey Jo’s menu is built around “authentic Philly Cheesesteaks and more.”

Phillips, a software programmer who will continue that profession remotely from the restaurant, said this new project started very simply.

“I couldn’t get a cheesesteak anywhere around here that I liked,” he said. So after years of looking, he finally decided to open a place of his own.

In addition to Philly cheesesteaks, Jersey Jo’s also will serve cold hoagie sandwiches, chicken wings and a trio of specialty burgers. The meat will be sliced on-site, deli-style for each of the made-to-order sandwiches.

July 09, 2015

Development exploding in Rochester's Shoppes on Maine area

Downtown Rochester is not the only area being eyed by developers. 

It appears that Shoppes on Maine in south Rochester is exploding with development these days.

I wrote about a 211 apartment complex proposed for the area on Wednesday plus there's already a massive housing project called The Boulders already under construction, which will have 144 apartments and eight buildings with 10 townhouses in each.

FireShot Capture - Google Maps - https___www.google.com_maps_@43.9547185,-92.4647416,15zMeanwhile, yet another group of developers met with residents of the Maine Avenue neighborhood on Tuesday to discuss their plans for a 359 unit apartment complex slated the empty land across from Mills Fleet Farm store.

I don't know much about the Fleet Farm apartment complex yet, but should have more on it soon.

Beside more than 700 apartments, the buzz in the Shoppes on Maine is that a new car dealership could be revving up for the land around 48th Street and St. Bridget's Road. 

There is a lot of interest in real estate in that area right now, so it's possible that a new name might be on the road to join Rochester Toyota Scion and Mercedes Benz of Rochester in Shoppes on Maine.

July 08, 2015

More apartments proposed by Rochester's Shoppes on Maine

Preparing to build an apartment complex, developers have purchased more than eight acres of land in south Rochester for  $1.8 million.

Harbor Bay Real Estate Advisors bought open, grass-covered land next to the Shoppes on Maine commercial area in preparation to build a proposed 211-apartment complex, according to Harbor Bay co-founder Tom Lund. HarborbayaptsHarbor Bay is based in Minneapolis and Chicago.

The land was purchased by Bascom Capital LLC, a firm set up by Harbor Bay. The acquisition was done in two transactions of $590,000 on June 26 and $1.22 million on July 1. The apartment complex is slated to be located by Maine Avenue Southeast near the two hotels.

While some design details still are being worked out, Lund described the unnamed complex as featuring Class A, high-end apartments.

"It (the complex) will be a higher end product," he said. "We'll have a clubhouse and lots of amenities."

A Site Development Plan for the project was filed the Rochester Building Safety Department on Monday. He hopes to have the plan before the Rochester City Council for approval this month.

Lund said the goal is to start construction in September and hopefully have it completed by late next summer.

Harbor Bay has projects in Minneapolis and Duluth, but this will be its first here.

"Rochester is an amazing community that's growing. The demographics for apartments are very strong and the supply right now is relatively limited," he said.

The location near Shoppes on Maine was attractive because of the easy access to shopping as well as one of Rochester's Park and Ride mass transit lots.

In fact, another developer agrees that area is prime for more housing. Big Rock, Ill.-based Executive Affiliates has its own $35 million housing project called The Boulders already under construction near Harbor Bay's site. The Boulders will include a three-story building with 144 apartments and eight buildings with 10 townhouses in each.

"I think we'll complement each other," said Lund of The Boulders.

July 06, 2015

Clients defend Rochester ADA lawsuits

The clients behind recent costly disability lawsuits against Rochester businesses say the money they collect will create programs to help disabled people.

"We all suffer with access issues," said Melanie Davis, a student from Jackson, Minn. "The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has been effect for many years. We've gotten tired of not having the same level of access everybody else has,"

Davis, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, is one of four board members of the Minnesota-based Disability Support Alliance. She, a Parking_lot_sign_largelong with other alliance members, filed at least eight lawsuits in the last two months against Rochester businesses over ADA violations. The non-profit Disability Support Alliance was formed on July 3, 2014.

Davis and her companions recently stayed in Rochester for about week. When asked why they were here, she replied, "We travel. There were various reasons for being in Rochester, like medical things. We like touring and stuff like that."

Surprised by lawsuits

Many of the local businesses, such as Bilotti's Pizzeria and Hillcrest Shopping Center, were surprised by the lawsuits. Neither Davis nor any of her companions made complaints directly to the businesses during their visit to Rochester.

The DSA's Minneapolis attorney, Paul Hansmeier, approaches businesses about settling the lawsuits for amounts, like $5,000. That has led some of the businesses to wonder if the suits are more about making money than resolving accessibility issues.

"These people (from the DSA) had no intention of supporting my business when they drove in here. They came in here with every intention of getting rich quick," said Bilotti's owner Karla Sperry, who is addressing the problem with signage for her handicapped parking spots.

Davis disputes that claim. She said none of the board members receive salaries or part of the settlements. However, they did receive travel expenses to attend their board meetings, which occur every three months. She said DSA board members are mostly supported by payments from Social Security.

"We're getting paid for damages, and we donate the money back into the DSA. That's basically how it works," she explained.

The money from the settlements goes into a fund to be used by the DSA to develop programs to help disabled people in Minnesota, Davis said. 

"All of those (programs) are in the works. Nothing is working yet at the moment," she said when asked about the support programs.

Hansmeier, who works for law firm Class Justice, handles all of DSA's lawsuits and does collect a portion of the settlements, she said.

"It's not a salary, but he gets a portion from each case," Davis said. "Paul receives his own salary from his law firm, which is a contract which we developed between our organizations."

When asked what percentage of each settlement that Hansmeier collects, she declined to answer.

Litigious past

Hansmeier has filed a large number of this type of lawsuit throughout the state, including in Marshall and Mankato. Before pursuing ADA cases, he was well known for suits against Internet users, charging they had illegally downloaded copyrighted pornography. A federal judge ordered Hansmeier and others to pay sanctions related to that practice. Prenda Law, the firm Hansmeier worked with on the porn cases, has been dissolved.

He has been quoted in the media saying, "We consider ourselves to be an advocacy association more than we consider ourselves a law firm. With the porn reputation, I wanted to shift my focus and focus on something more positive."

In 2013, Hansmeier began filing a number of ADA-related cases for a disabled Minneapolis client named Eric A Wong. In a deposition for one of the cases, Wong testified that Hansmeier's brother, Peter Hansmeier, and others working with Hansmeier would take him to businesses to see if he could access them.

Hennepin County District Court Chief Judge Peter Cahill flagged six of the cases at the end of 2013 and ordered them all assigned to one judge to make sure they were all managed the same way.


The judge wrote that the manner in which the lawsuits were filed "… raises the specter of litigation abuse, and Mr. Hansmeier’s history reinforces this concern."

Davis said Wong is chairman of the DSA board. He recruited her to the board after she appeared in a documentary called "Independence to Inclusion" by Twin Cities Public Television in April 2014.

"He (Eric) had a vision for a better life," she said.

As far as Hansmeier's controversial past as an attorney, Davis said that doesn't concern her or any of the other board members.

"For us right now, it comes down to this, everybody has a past. What he did then is very different than what he's doing now," she said. "We're thankful for someone who's willing to help us exercise our civil rights."

In an email to the Post-Bulletin, Hansmeier reiterated the reason for the lawsuits is to make businesses more accessible, not to make money.

"Regardless of whether everyone agrees with my clients' efforts there can be no question that more attention to these issues will encourage more business owners to obey the law without the need for a lawsuit," he wrote.

Hansmeier also clarified in his email that a lawsuit he filed for DSA against Rochester's Kahler Grand Hotel in March plus a counter-suit filed in response by Kahler were settled in April.