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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.

April 01, 2014

Work on new Roch, Scheels store in high gear

The transformation and expansion of the former Sears store into a new Scheels All Sports complex at Rochester is moving at a good clip.

The first pic is from this morning. The 01042014scheelsatapachesecond one is from March 19.

Fargo, N.D.-based Scheels estimates that it will be ready to open in early April 2015. The planned 140,000-square foot store will be larger than the 120,000-square-foot Scheels in Mankato.

It's expected to employ between 120 to 180.

Sears closed in January. The development for the expanded 19032014scheelsatapachestore also includes Apache Mall adding 9,000-square-foot restaurant site on the east side of the city water tower. 

There's no word yet on what restaurant might be planned for that site.

Scheelsmap1"It will still have a fudge and coffee bar and a mini bowling alley. It will carry fashion clothing and shoes for women and men as well as athletic clothing and shoes for men and women. That's all in addition to our the entire hard line of sporting goods," said Scheels' Jason Loney.

This will be the sporting goods chain's 25th store and its fifth in Minnesota.

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.

March 26, 2014

Rec Lanes expansion rolling along

I swung by Recreation Lanes at 2810 N. Broadway on Tuesday to check out how the $4 million expansion project is going.

03252014reclanesexpansionIt looks like it's still rolling along at a good "bowlocity," but not sure how soon soon it be completed.

This project to transform the 50-year-old bowling into a modern entertainment center was launched back in October, when they tore out the putt-putt course and the batting cages.

"You can't just sell bowling anymore," said owner Gene Glorvigen in October. "We want to provide an environment that's fun and comfortable for everyone from 5-year-olds to 60-year-old executives. I think we're going to achieve that."

Index~~element333The bowling alley is doubling in size by adding 1,600-square-feet to the northwest side, where the mini-golf course and batting cages once stood. The addition will house an eight lane "V.I.B." (Very Important Bowler) area with its own bar, a banquet room, three party or meeting rooms, a large arcade and a two-story laser tag arena.

Recreation Lanes will remain open through most of the construction. They hope to have it completed by early spring. Part of the project includes expanding behind the center and adding a parking lot.

Area manufacturer to expand, add 14 jobs

A long-time southern Minnesota manufacturer says a $215,000 state tax credits based on adding more jobs helped convince it to expand here rather than on the West Coast.

M60stdHarmony Enterprises, which makes and services recycling and waste management equipment in the small town of Harmony, are one of five companies chosen for the new Minnesota Job Creation Fund program. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the the first round of businesses on Tuesday.

If Harmony Enterprises does as it has pledged and adds 14 new jobs to its current staff of 60 plus builds a $1.1 million expansion within two years, it will receive the $215,000 in tax credits over four years. The manufacturer, which also has a location in France, has been based in Harmony since 1962.

Owner and President Steve Cremer says the company has been growing quickly in the past few years and more growth appears to be on the way, particularly in Africa and Asia. That prospect had Harmony Enterprises considering its options on how expand its production. With so many of the firms competitors and customers located on the West Coast, they start looking at the possibility of adding a facility in California or Arizona.Bcb2003-open


Then they found out about the $24 million Minnesota Job Creation Fund, which began in January.

"We wanted to stay here. The community is good to us," said Cremer. "Now we'll start construction of a 6,000-square-foot addition in the spring."

The plan is to create a new drive-through shipping department, which will improve efficiency for the company and open up the current shipping area to revamped into more production space.

In addition to the improved shipping and the expanding production area, Harmony Enterprises is also ramping up its new service offerings. About a year and half ago, it launched a new service business. It contracts directly with companies to maintain and repair all recycling and waste management machines.

"That's our really big growth area. Many of the new jobs will be service jobs," he says.

March 21, 2014

DMC origins stem from lunch chat six years ago

For the first part of two DMC sections, I chatted with Dr. Glenn Forbes, Bruce Fairchild, John Wade, Jeff Korsmo and Lisa Clarke about the evolution of the concept of the Destination Medical Center.

DMCMy article tracks the journey of the idea from a casual lunch conversation in March 2008 to DMC's appearance in the 2012 sales tax vote and the unveiling of the full concept in 2013.

Obviously, the idea of the City of Rochester and Mayo Clinic working from the playbook is not a novel idea in the Med City. Some at Mayo dismissed my use of this luncheon chat as a startng point. However, they weren't about to offer any better dates as begin DMC's genesis other than the formation of Mayo Clinic 250 years ago.

Unfortunately, the DMC section wasn't quite large enough to accomodate an article that tracked each milestone since 1889, so I just went with the March 2008 conversation.

Here's a little bit of what turned into a very lengthy article. Check out the rest in this weekend's DMC section.

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

Destination Medical Center is such a common topic in Rochester today that it's hard to keep in mind that the concept has only been known publicly for just over a year.

But the concept that grew into the $6 billion DMC initiative appears to have started with a chat at a Virginia conference center about six years ago.

Flag01-bdyjpgThat conversation was in March 2008 at Mayo Clinic's National Symposium on Health Care Reform at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Va. The place was bustling with national leaders in the health care business. Representatives of the presidential candidates were there, promoting their health-care reform plans.

But not everyone at the conference worked directly in health care. Mayo Clinic flew out two local business leaders — John Wade, then-president of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, and Bruce Fairchild, then-regional director of Interstate Hotels in Rochester — as guests.

Since November 2007, Wade and Fairchild had been talking about developing a plan to bring the community and its largest employer into sync to serve more efficiently the thousands of people who stream into Rochester. While it wasn't a new idea, a move to formalize such a plan was gaining momentum. Amid the action at the symposium, the pair decided they should share their ideas with Mayo Clinic.

They asked to meet with Mayo Rochester CEO Dr. Glenn Forbes, without much expectation that he'd have time to meet.

"But true to form, Dr. Forbes took the time, and we had lunch together," Wade said in a recent interview. Forbes was Mayo Rochester CEO from 2006 to 2009, and "his very nature is to be collaborative," Wade said.

The three met in a restaurant at the Lansdowne conference center, and their lunch unexpectedly turned out to be a long one.

It started with the trio "blue sky, brainstorming ideas," said Fairchild, who now manages hotels in Texas. But the talk quickly picked up momentum.

"We were getting increasingly excited about the possibilities," said Forbes, who is now retired from Mayo Clinic. "The lunch went over several cups of coffee for about 2 1/2 hours."

Med City tech quiz - Do you remember… ?

Looking through some old pics the other day, I came across some pieces of Rochester's techno past.

These were all once hot topics in the Rochester area. Some were even snapped up by early adapters. And then things changed.

While some of these still exist on the market in some form, a couple never made it beyond prototypes or early generations.

A couple of these are easy, but I wonder if anyone out there can correctly identify all of them.

Post your answers in the comments section to claim the fame of being Rochester's top tech historian.

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IMG_1047

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DSCN0097

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IMG_2005

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