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142 posts categorized "Non-profits news"

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.

October 26, 2015

What's Mayo Clinic's plan for its new technology park?

Mayo4710technologyparkMayo Clinic is moving dirt and dividing up some open land by its Rochester data center at 4710 West Circle Dr. N.W.

However, details are sparse about the future of the site.

Mayo Clinic has submitted plans to the city for a "4710 Technology Park," a 22.5 acre tusk-shaped chunk of land north of the 4710 data center building.

The permit says:

 Final Plat #R2015-030PLAT to be known as 4710 Technology Park. The Plat proposes to subdivide three lots and one block for commercial development. The property is located at 4710 West Circle Dr NW.

I started asking Mayo Clinic about this project on Sept. 10. Mayo Clinic has not responded yet.
While no building is drawn on the plat, there are a series of driveways/st 10262015mayo4710techparkreets that curve around a space on Plot 2, that would seem to be designed to provide access to some sort of facility.
Mayo Clinic has certainly shown a lot of interest in that northwest area of the Med City for the past several years.
In 2000, it purchased a facility that Western Digital built at 4001 41st St. N.W.That became the Mayo Support Center, which houses Mayo Clinic's Dept. of Defense Medical Research Office spearheaded by Dr. Barry K. Gilbert.
In 2004, it bought a nearby complex at 3050 Superior Drive from Celestica. That eventually became the Superior Drive Support Center, which houses Mayo Medical Labs.
Mayo Clinic then built the 4710 Building, a data center, in 2012. It stands just north of the Mayo Support Center.
And now it is carving out a 4710 Technology Park by the 4710 Building.
In July, Mayo Clinic bought a nearby former mail processing center at 3939 Valleyhigh Drive. No word yet on how that will be used, though there is speculation that it could become a commercial laundry.


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 05, 2015

More Goodwill for Rochester

The new Goodwill thrift store is going up quickly in northwest Rochester.

10042015goodwillThe framework of the new 28,000-square-foot stands at the corner of 19th Street Northwest and Scott Road Northwest. That's the 19th Street entrance to the Costco commercial area. The store is slated to sit opposite the Kwik Trip station across Scott Road.

It's being built by a Minneapolis developer, The Driessen Group. The nonprofit Goodwill organization has not commented much about the project, but the unofficial buzz is that this new store will serve as a second Rochester location.

In 2008, a Goodwill store with 15,000 square feet of retail space was built at 239 28th St. SE in the Broadway Commons commercial area. The nonprofit organization moved into it after leaving its old Rochester spot at 660 37th St. NW. 

September 02, 2015

Golden Hill School sells for $1.8 million

GoldenhillschoolWhile I'm on a roll of reporting Rochester commercial building sales, here's an item from my colleague Taylor Nachtigal's Notebook piece from last night's Rochester School Board meeting.

We're checking with Ryan Cos. about what the plans are for the property. Ryan was the developer behind the Rochester Marketplace/ Target North/ Home Depot commercial area, but they sold that off a few years back.

Whatever happens, I'd say it's a safe bet that the worn-out, 36,000-square-foot ex-school building is not long for this world.


The Rochester school board on Tuesday unanimously approved the sale of the district's Golden Hill School to Ryan Cos. of Rochester for $1.8 million.

The property, at 2220 3rd Avenue SE, last served the district as an alternative learning center, but programming was moved to another site after Golden Hill suffered heating and ventilation problems.



September 01, 2015

Celyad, Medisun collaborating on new China deal

Two international firms with deep Mayo Clinic and Rochester ties are joining forces for a new $22.4 million collaboration. 

Belgium-based Celyad, formerly called Cardio3, announced Monday it's entering into a new venture and distribution deal with its partner, Medisun International Limited, for its C-Cure cardiac treatment. C-Cure is based on stem-cell technology called cardiopoiesis licensed from Mayo Clinic.

CelyadBoth Celyad and the Hong Kong-based Medisun continue to collaborate with Mayo Clinic and both are in the process of creating facilities in Rochester.

This new 15-year agreement between Celyad and Medisun guarantees Celyad will "conduct all clinical development and undertake any regulatory steps necessary for market approval in China, Hong-Kong, Taiwan and Macau (collectively 'Greater China')," according to a news release about the venture.

Medisun will fund that push with a minimum of 20 million Euros, or $22.4 million. In addition to the funding cash, Celyad will collect royalties and profit sharing. The royalty rates, based on the total revenues from C-Cure, are expected to range from 10 percent to 30 percent. Profit-sharing amounts will be based on total revenues after royalties are taken out. The profit sharing is expected to range from 20 to 25 percent.

"We are pleased to have this new license agreement in place with our local partner Medisun, which give us full control over clinical developments in these territories, fully funded by our local partner. Pending receipt of necessary approvals, we look forward to giving access to this technology to patients in Greater China," stated Celyad CEO Christian Homsy in the release.

6a00d83451cc8269e201b8d0c98293970c-120wiCelyad is paying rent on the entire fifth floor, or 14,963 square feet, in the city of Rochester's Minnesota Biobusiness Center. The city signed a lease with Celyad earlier this year for it to develop a prototype manufacturing facility in the downtown building. Construction has been underway for months, but is not yet completed. The five-year lease calls for Celyad to pay a rent of $18 per square foot, or $22,444.50 per month. The city agreed in the lease to pay for $600,000 in equipment and improvements to the space.

Local officials hope to convince Celyad to build a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with 350 employees in Rochester, according to officials at Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.  Celyad also has plans to build a U.S. headquarters in Boston.

The company recently reported a $17.04 million loss for the first half of 2015. It lost $18.1 million for the whole year in 2014, up from $15.9 million in losses in 2013. Dr. Homsy told Reuters last week the company has enough cash to make it through the end of 2017.

The company did an initial public stock offering in 2014, which yielded about $500,000 worth of shares for Mayo Clinic.

Medisun also is collaborating with Mayo Clinic on a project to bring more patients from China to Rochester for treatment. While Medisun began building a $1 million office in the H3 Plaza building in downtown Rochester earlier this year, it recently put an end to that project.

Mayo Clinic, however, has confirmed it still is working with Medisun. Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Duska Anastasijevic said she didn't believe "the scope and nature of the relationship has been impacted or altered, just the planned location of their offices has changed." 

She added that Mayo staff working with Medisun said the company will be using one of its Rochester homes as "a guest house" and headquarters for the project. Medisun CEO Danny Wong personally owns two houses in Rochester. He bought a house at 2515 Crest Lane SW for $1.4 million as well as one at 615 10th Ave. SW for $1.31 million. It is not known which property will serve as the guest house.

August 20, 2015

Popular TEDx Talks coming to Rochester

A local group is looking for people who have "compelling ideas that can change the world" to launch a new TEDx Talks event in Rochester.

"It's a great platform for ideas that matter," said Ben Creo, co-organizer of TEDxZumbroRiver.

The organizers are announcing their plans for a spring event this evening at Thursday on First & Third. 

CQkbamygIn the past several years, intellectually challenging speeches on a wide variety of concepts have grown very popular through the TED Talks events in California.

The idea of the modern version of Toastmasters is simple. After applying for the opportunity, a person is chosen to speak to a live audience on their topic for three to 18 minutes. The talks are recorded, and TED Talks post them online to reach as many people as possible.

Starting in 2006, the short and often impassioned speeches have exploded in popularity with the YouTube generation. By 2012, TED Talks online video had tallied 1 billion views. This summer, posted its 2,000th talk online.

After hearing local young professionals talk about how much they liked the popular TED Talks, Creo and co-organizer Barbara Spurrier went through the detailed application process applied for and received a license from the national nonprofit group.

"Rochester is a fantastic city and an intellectual capital of the Midwest. Let's showcase our city to the world," stated Creo in the press announcement. "It's time for Rochester to have a TEDx, and now, we will."

Rochester is cleared to host events with more than 100 audience members. Spurrier, who is the administrative director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation, says this shows the confidence in Rochester because TED starts most franchise groups off with audiences of only up to 100.

Creo and Spurrier are hoping to attract a crowd of about 1,000 for the inaugural TEDxZumbroRiver event in the spring of 2016. They expect to have about 20 people speaking. No local venue has been finalized to host it yet.

Every speech will be recorded and sent to the head TED organization to be posted on its website.

Part of TED's rules include that no local organization, such as Mayo Clinic, can control or dominate the talks. Organizers say don't expect an event dominated by well-known local leaders.

"It needs to be community-driven," said Spurrier. "We're trying to reach across the community to create a holistic program."

All topics are on the table, with nothing being banned as a potential speech. The focus will be on fresh, energizing ideas. While the event will be based here, speakers can come from beyond the Rochester area.

TEDxZumbroRiver has speaker applications on its website at Creo said the applications will be "curated" by a group of about 12 volunteers.

"Right now, the focus is on finding compelling ideas," he said.

July 29, 2015

More on Mayo Clinic + US Postal facility

 So the Post-Bulletin is not the only Minnesota media to take note of Mayo Clinic's recent $2.11 million purchase of the unused U.S. Postal Service center at 3939 Valleyhigh Drive.

PostalcenterOn July 17, Mayo closed the $29.13 a square foot deal on the northwest Rochester property, which the US Post Office closed in January. I wrote an article about it on July 21.

The Twin Cities business newspaper, Finance & Commerce, spotlighted the deal in it's "Minnesota Snapshot" real estate feature in its July 23 issue.

While Mayo Clinic still hasn't worked out what it will do the building that it purchased, the Finance & Commerce piece by Anne Bretts does provide some new insight into how the deal played out.

Chris Gliedman, of the Minneapolis-St. Paul office of CBRE Group, which has a national contract to represent the USPS.

Gleidman and colleague Mike Marinovich most recently marketed several properties that became available after the Postal Service consolidated many of its operations in Eagan, where the USPS expanded an existing facility to create a 950,000-square-foot regional processing center.

The move affected facilities throughout Minnesota and into Wisconsin.


The Rochester property went on the market in January 2014.

“We had pretty good interest,” Gleidman said.

In fact, he was in discussions within months and had it under contract by fall. The buyer withdrew, however, leaving Gleidman and Marinovich to start over. Before they could put the building back on the market, Mayo made an offer. It was lower than the original offer, but the deal carried no risk, Gleidman said.

“We felt very comfortable that Mayo Clinic was going to deliver,” Gleidman said.

July 28, 2015

Mayo Clinic-linked NeoChord on 'Hot Devices We Can't Get in US' list

NeoChord, a medical device firm I first wrote about in 2007, made a top 10 list this week on the Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry news site.

They posted a "10 Hot Devices We can't Get in the US" list on their Device Talk blog with this set-up text block:

Patients in the United States enjoy some of the best medical care in the world, but many observers worry that the country's regulatory environment is pushing medical innovation to other shores. Whether you believe FDA oversight is too stringent, too lax, or strikes the right balance, there are numerous medical devices that have achieved CE Marking, but aren't yet FDA approved.

NeoChord's DS1000 made the list. It earned a CE Marking in December 2012 but does not have FDA approval.


The Eden Prairie-based NeoChord surfaced locally in 2007, when it licensed technology designed byMayo Clinic cardiac surgeons Dr. Richard Daly and Dr. Giovanni Speziali. Speziali was named as the company's chief medical officer in 2013. 

NeoChord-DS1000Beside licensing its technology, Mayo Clinic has also previously invested in NeoChord. 

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.

Treatment 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 market for less invasive techniques for mitral valve repair has been estimated at more than $2 billion. 

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.