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2015 posts categorized "In print"

April 18, 2014

Downtown building sells for $771,000

Yet another building in Rochester's downtown core sold recently.

20140418_141438The 129-year-old building at 325 South Broadway was  purchased for $771,500 on May 26 by RGA of Rochester. RGA is a group of local investors that includes Paul Armon of Armon Architecture, Inc. and Peter and Paul Gerrard of La Crosse, Wis.-based Gerrard Co. 

Gerrard Co. developed the nearby multi-million dollar Metropolitan Market Place complex that houses the popular People's Food Cooperative as well as 62 apartments at First Avenue and Sixth Street Southwest in September.

20140418_141616The company is also working on a new Rochester apartment complex along 8 1/2 Avenue Northwest.

Unlike other recent downtown purchases, Armon and the Gerrards don't seem to have immediate development plans for that site. Their local offices are based in the building. Armon Architecture and Gerrard Cos. have been tenants there since May, 2012.

John Hasseler, a jewelry, goldsmith and artist, opened Broadway Jewelry and Visual Arts in the storefront retail space there in 2012. Prior to that, Cheri's Boutique was based there and Carson's Framing before that.

RGA bought the building, which was constructed in 1885, from the estate of Harold Perry. Perry purchased in 1999 for $185,000.

This is just one many downtown real estate purchases in recently months.

Bloom International Realty, based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, bought the seven-story Associated Bank Building at 206 S. Broadway for $7 million in September.

• Local investors paid $3 million for the Riverside Building at 400 S Broadway and two other buildings along a two-block stretch of South Broadway from Fourth Street to Sixth Street last summer.

• The 63-year-old youth theater building at 12 Fourth St. S.W. was bought for $400,000 in August by AC Acquisitions LLC of Rochester, a Titan Development & Investments company.

April 17, 2014

Ex-bar will soon house memorial services

The former Mickey's Irish Saloon building is getting a very different tenant soon.

Rochester Cremation Services is re-working the former bar building at 1605 Civic Center Drive N.W.

04162014mickeysMike Johnson, who owns Rochester Cremation, hopes to be in his new site by end of the month. It's located in a high profile spot on Civic Center Drive, just west of the Hy-Vee grocery store in the Barlow Plaza.

"It's a big project," he said of transforming the saloon into a funeral home.

Funeral Director Johnson explained that his cremation business simply has outgrown its current location at 14 Sixth St. N.W. After a long search, he picked the Civic Center building as the best choice. Johnson is leasing the building, which is owned by Gary Mattison.

"We simply need to have a bigger building for memorial services. A lot of people today don't have their own church any more, so they turn to us," he said.

While there will be memorial services there, the cremation process will not take place in the Civic Center building — it will be done elsewhere.

Mickey Clark opened Mickey's Irish Saloon there in 2004. The bar, which was known for its large St. Patrick's Day party and for hosting boxing/mixed martial arts bouts, closed its doors in May 2013.

April 10, 2014

Associated Bank working on new spots for Rochester branches

Associated Bank is planning to close its branch in the Hy-Vee North grocery  and then re-open it in a future northwest Rochester location.

Associateddrawing1The Green Bay, Wis. bank announced this week that it will close the grocery store branch at 500 37th St. N.W. at the end of July. Hy-Vee customers will then be served by Associated Bank's Rochester locations on South Broadway, First Avenue Southwest and 16th Street Southwest.

The five branch employees based at the Hy-Vee branch will work at Associated's three other Rochester branches until a new northwest facility "in the West Circle Drive corridor" is completed.

While bank officials wouldn't confirm the location of the to-be-constructed bank yet, Associated has submitted very early plans to the city to build a 3,683-square-foot branch in the 19th Street/West Circle Drive commercial development anchored by Costco.

Re-locating the northwest branch is not the only Rochester move coming up for the bank.

New owners have acquired Associated Bank's downtown building at 206 South Broadway and the bank needs to move out by spring 2015. There was speculation when the site development permit was filed for the West Circle Drive branch that it might serve as the new home for the downtown branch.

Not so, says the bank's spokesman. It's actively looking for a new location that will allow it to maintain its presence downtown.

“We are finalizing plans for an exciting new Associated Bank location in the West Circle Drive Corridor and continue to review opportunities for a new downtown bank location," stated Executive Vice President David Stein in this week's announcement.

Stein also commented that, "The greater Rochester area represents an important market for Associated Bank, and we are committed to serving our customers there with expanded operations and services."

Associated Bank entered the Rochester area in 2004, when it acquired First Federal Capital Bank. First Federal was short-lived here. It picked up the holdings of the long-time Marquette Bank in 2002.

April 09, 2014

Allegiant Air pulling out of Rochester… again

Allegiant Air announced Tuesday that it's pulling out of the Rochester International Airport and will end its weekly nonstop flights to Arizona on May 14.

Allegiant"We are always disappointed to end service in a market," said Eric Fletcher, Allegiant's manager of airports. "We thank the Rochester International Airport for their partnership and apologize to any travelers who are inconvenienced by this decision."

Allegiant began offering offering two weekly nonstop flights to Mesa, Ariz., in November 2012, with an eye to serving as a connection between Rochester and Mayo Clinic's Phoenix campus. The 166 seats flights travel on Thursday and Sunday.

A recent study of the airport activity from July 2012 to June 2013 found that Phoenix/Mesa was the top destination from the airport. Allegiant in Rochester had 15,580 passengers during those 12 months. That accounts for 7.4 percent of the passengers in this market. For the same period, Delta accounted 44.7 percent of the airport's passengers, and American had 41.6 percent.

That same study found that Allegiant tallied about $1.4 million revenue during those 12 months.

This marks the Las Vegas-based airline's second failed attempt to serve the Rochester market. From 2008 to 2010, it offered bargain nonstop flights to Las Vegas. During 2008, 27,854 passengers flew out of Rochester to Las Vegas on Allegiant. Those flights ended in 2010 because of lack of demand.

When Allegiant returned to Rochester with a focus on Arizona, there was no concern about demand with the built-in Mayo Clinic traffic plus vacation trips.

“We’ve had good luck returning to markets that we’ve previously pulled out of. We feel good about coming back to Rochester,” said Allegiant's Fletcher in 2008.

Rochester's airport has long worked at attracting and keeping airlines, although it's hindered by lower cost flights from Minneapolis.

In August 2012, the Rochester International Airport was awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department Transportation to help attract airlines to provide direct flight service to more destinations. The Rochester City Council approved a local match of $225,000, for a total of $750,000.

The airport's application included a letter from Frontier Airlines, saying the Denver-based company would be interested in providing direct flights if Rochester could offer incentives. The airport has not added any new flights or airlines, since that grant was presented.

Mark Sixel, who did the recent study for the airport, concluded his report by saying Rochester has a large enough passenger market to support more flights. However, numbers alone may not be enough in this competitive environment.

"It is likely the Rochester International Airport will have to offer some some kind of risk mitigation program, including waivers, marketing and even ground handling to convince another airline to launch service," he wrote.

Most experts say the bottom line is that the airport likely will need to offer financial enticement of some sort to attract more service. After establishing the relationship, then the passenger numbers need to be there to keep the service.

April 03, 2014

Does Mayo Clinic have plans for Shoppes on Maine?

Mayo Clinic seems to be looking to south Rochester for a future project, even though there's no official word yet.

Tom Hexum, of Maine Street Development Co. of Rochester, filed a Land Development Application on March 11 for a 22,000-square-foot "commercial building with parking" at the corner of Canal Place Southeast and Maine Avenue Southeast. That puts the building near Fat Willy's Bar and Grill and across Maine Avenue from the commercial center anchored by Lowe's.

Mayo buildingThe proposed building would be situated on two acres and have 109 parking spaces. Plans call for a half circle drive in front for loading and unloading at the building's entrance, which would be covered with an 880-square-foot canopy.

Hexum and Maine Street have been the local driving force behind development in the Shoppes on Maine area from its start. Most of their previous projects had future tenants identified before any construction began. But this new development application doesn't name any tenant.

However, Mayo Clinic enters the picture when the application was studied by city staff. The Department of Planning and Zoning and the Department of Public Works describe the building as the "proposed Mayo Clinic facility" in letters on May 14 and May 24. Those letters denied the application until a variety of site-related issues are addressed.

Despite being named by city officials, Mayo Clinic would neither confirm nor deny any specific plans in the Shoppes on Maine 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," said Rebecca Eisenman, of Mayo Clinic's Communications Dept. "Future options may include expansion of facilities and services in southeast Minnesota, but no specific details are available at this time."

While the first application for this building was denied, it seems likely that Rochester design firm Yaggy Colby will be able to address the issues and get the development approved.

We'll just need to watch how it plays out and listen to what Mayo Clinic has to say about it.

April 02, 2014

North Roch. Pizza Hut getting a makeover

Rochester's Pizza Hut restaurant along U.S. 52 North is getting a full makeover.

01042014pizzahutworkThe Pizza Hut at 2001 U.S. 52 North Frontage Road currently is closed while construction crews revamp the 28-year-old brick restaurant. It sits between McDonald's and Motel 6.

San Antonio, Texas-based Muy Brands is driving the upgrade of the Pizza Hut. Muy, one of the largest Pizza Hut franchisees in the U.S., bought the restaurant in January for $986,733.

There's no official timeline for when the work will be complete, but it looks to be progressing fast enough that the restaurant could re-open by late spring or early summer. Building permits dating back to December estimate the value of the project at $168,000.

The Pizza Hut is not the only restaurant in that neighborhood with changes cooking.

Construction o01042014mcdonaldssitef a new McDonald's restaurant will soon begin by Costco, off 19th Street Northwest. Once the new restaurant is complete, the McDonald's next to Pizza Hut will shift to the new restaurant and the old store will close. Until then, it will remain open.

New Roch. Menards to open April 8

Rochester's new northside Menards store will open its doors at 6:30 a.m. April 8.

The newly completed $12 million store near the intersection of U.S. 52 and 65th Street Northwest will replace its old store at 5150 U.S. 52 North. That store is prepared to shift to close-out mode and will remain open for a while after the 65th Street store opens.

Menards also has a south Rochester store at 3000 S. Broadway.

The new 90,000-square-foot store is on 35 acres, with an additional 40 acres available for development by other businesses. Planned for years, the project wMenards-Logoas delayed while waiting for a proposed U.S. 52 interchange at 65th Street Northwest to be built. The interchange recently was constructed with funding from a portion of the local-option sales tax revenue.

“We appreciate all the loyal customers who continued to shop at Menards through the years and
look forward to opening this new store," store manager Eric Ritter said in a company announcement. "Everyone has been working really hard for weeks in preparation of opening the doors to better serve the community with all the latest, greatest home improvement products.”

The new store includes a full-service lumber yard, a garden center, appliances, pet supplies and convenience grocery items. An official grand opening for the new store will be scheduled for a later date.

Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards operates 286 home improvement stores in 14 Midwestern states.

Once the existing Menards facility at 5150 U.S. 52 North closes, two Rochester retailers plan to upgrade the building and move their businesses into it. Jim Sather and Mark Byer, who own the Furniture Superstore Factory Outlet and America's Mattress stores, hope to move forward with that project as soon as possible.

March 31, 2014

Lots of construction cooking at Big Blue

Lots of construction is in the works on IBM's sprawling Rochester campus.

IBM buildinglogoSome final work still is underway in buildings 333 and 002 for Charter Communications. The cable-television provider is leasing those buildings to house an estimated $3.5 million expansion of Charter Business, its business-to-business division.

Charter says the expansion will add more than 140 jobs to its Rochester operations. The company is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony for April 15 in Building 002 on the IBM campus.

While neither Charter nor IBM are discussing it yet, a permit also has been submitted to the city planning department for interior demolition of IBM's Building 005. Charter-business-logo

The permit describes the demolition as preparing the building for "Future Charter Business."  The value of this project is listed as $3.25 million.

Without information from Charter or IBM, it's unclear what this permit signifies. However, Building 005 is connected to Building 002, so it's possible Charter needs more space for its expansion and it possibly is leasing a third building from IBM.

HgstLook for more details about this project in the near future.

Meanwhile, HGST has construction of its own cooking in one of the buildings it leases from IBM. Western Digital's HGST, formerly owned by Hitachi, is working on a Crossfit workout center and locker room. That project is valued at $325,900.

Big Blue also has some construction in the works on its Rochester campus.

A permit has been filed for an "acoustic chamber upgrade" valued at $195,000 in IBM's Building 020.

March 27, 2014

New 24 floor downtown tower takes first step

A proposed 24-story mixed-used complex that would be the second tallest building in Rochester took its first official step forward on Wednesday night.

Broadwayatcenter2The City Planning and Zoning Commission voted to support Titan Development's preliminary plan for the Broadway at Center project. It's slated to be built on South Broadway and East Center Street, just north of Broadway Residence and Suites by BridgeStreet.

"This is a unique project," said designer Hal Henderson of HGA, Inc. to the commission members. "It will be one of the top-quality buildings in downtown."

The 411,000-square-foot Broadway at Center will include retail and restaurants, a 184-unit Embassy Suites Hotel on 11 floors, 84 apartments on six floors and underground parking. It also will feature a landscaped terrace on the third floor.

Broadwayatcenter3"It adds a significant amount of needed retail to the downtown," said Henderson.

Titan anticipates the project will fit with the goals of the Destination Medical Center initiative and will be able to "leverage" city funds to help finance it, Henderson said.

The preliminary plan for the "incentive development" will move on to the Rochester City Council for its approval. Titan, which is spearheaded by Rochester developers Andy and Gus Chafoulias, then will be cleared to fine-tune the project and bring a final version of the plan back to the zoning commission and City Council for the official green light to move ahead.

While some planning commission members, such as Lindsey Meek and Wade Goodenberger, had suggestions for minor improvements, the group overall was supportive of the preliminary plan.

Broadwayatcenter1"Redevelopment is long overdue on that corner," said commission member Nick Campion.

Some details still need to be finalized, including working out a plan with the city for a private-public parking ramp, vacating the alley that runs behind the current buildings and hammering out the details of the complex's connections to the skyway system.

Negotiations are underway with city staff about the proposed parking ramp, which will be connected to Broadway at Center by skyway, said Henderson.

"Plans for the parking structure are lagging behind," he acknowledged. "It's very complicated."

An application to vacate a portion of the alley was filed with the city recently. Commission member Michael Walters voiced mild concern about approving the preliminary plan before the alley issue was resolved. In the end, he was satisfied with Titan's explanations and backed the plan contingent on the eventual finalizing of the alley issue.

"Actually, we're only asking to vacate a portion of the alley. … We will leave an alley there. It will just be re-positioned," said Henderson.

The proposal calls for the alley to be "bridged" by the parking structure. It will remain open for use by the public.

Titan's working out a plan with Broadway Residence and Suites to establish a skyway link to the south between the two buildings. The project proposal states that Broadway at Center will have skyway connections in all four directions. Beside the south skyway, it also will be able to connect west across Broadway, east to the parking ramp and north "for future development."

Assuming everything goes according to plan, demolition of the buildings that house CJ's Midtown Lounge, Ginny's Fine Fabrics and Jakobson Management Co. could happen this summer, with construction beginning late summer or early fall, said Mark Steege, the chief financial officer of Titan Ventures, the parent company for Titan Development.

The tenants are expected to move out in the next couple of weeks, he said.

Steege attended the meeting with Gus Chafoulias, the chairman of the board for Titan. Royal Management President Imad A Baker of Washington, D.C., was also at the meeting, Royal Management developed the 26-story Broadway Residence and Suites in 2004.

Olive oil shop + fashion boutique

Sometimes oil does mix well.

Stillwater Olive Oil Co. is reviving its downtown Rochester presence by moving in with Exquisite Leather, Luggage and Furs on Historic Third Street.

03262014exquisite"It's kind of a good fit. Lots of women who shop at the boutique also buy from us," says co-owner Ginger Zehm. "There's a lot of overlap."

Lisa Irhke, who owns the three Exquisite Leather boutiques in Rochester, agrees that the two retailers have a lot in common. Irhke opened the 1,600-square-foot store at 20 Third St. S.W. last year. Since then she has found that the boutique doesn't need all of the available space. Stillwater Oil is crafting its own niche within the store that will be about the same size as its previous spot in Rochester.

StillwaterOliveOil440Zehmn hopes to re-open Stillwater Olive Oil by April 1 within Exquisite Leather. The olive oil shop and the fashion boutique will "share" staff with Exquisite Leather's employees being trained to sell the oil and vinegars.

She and co-owner Holly Arps started with their original shop in Stillwater in 2010. They followed their success there by opening a second location in Rochester within the Kahler Hotel in 2011. That earned them a number of Med City foodie fans who were attracted to the wide selection of high-end, flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

"Then there were lots of changes at Kahler. We needed a change," she says. "But we wanted to stay in downtown."

Stillwater Oil's Kahler shop closed at the start of this month to prepare for the transition to Historic Third Street. Manager Tony Miller since has moved on to work at Cook's Pantry, a culinary specialty store in southwest Rochester.