News Business Sports Entertainment Life Obituaries Opinion
Jobs Homes Cars Classifieds Shopping

Search PB Blogs



October 20, 2015

Google brings its delivery service to Rochester

Searching for next day delivery service in Rochester?

The world's largest search engine might be the answer.

Google Express launched service in the Rochester area this morning, which is its first foray in Minnesota.

"We want to make users lives easier and help out merchants reach more customers," said Google Express' General Manager Brian Elliot. "We have crazy busy lives these days. This is about giving you back some time."

Google-ExpressMountain View, Calif.-based search engine company Google launched Google Express two years ago to expand its commerce arm, offering an alternative to Amazon Prime.

Elliot's example is parents who have a kid's birthday party and are signed up to provide snacks for the soccer teams. Elliott says at long as the orders are made by 5 p.m. the day before, Google Express can deliver the next day.

However, don't expect to see any delivery trucks pull up with "Google Express" on the side. Unlike regional distribution centers used by Amazon or UPS, Google Express works directly with retailers and contracts with local courier services.

It has deals with 18 merchants like Whole Foods, Costco, Staples,Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble, PetSmart, Walgreens and more. The retailers put their available products out on Google Express' online catalog. Consumers chose what they want. The store packages it up and a courier delivers it.

Google Express, which has been running this new service in areas like Chicago and San Francisco, offers an annual membership for $95. Members get free overnight shipping on most items, as long they meet the store's minimum order requirements of $15. There's $3 service fee for orders that don't meet the minimum levels.

For non-members, delivery costs start at $4.99 per store for eligible orders. The fee for orders under the minimum sizes is $3, the same as members.

While Google Express is introducing this service in the Rochester area, it is not covering Minneapolis or St. Paul yet.

"We got up to Rochester, but to the Twin Cities. We'd love to get there. Over time, I'd expect we will," said Elliot. "It's a sort of a one-step at a time project."

He explained that Rochester is closer to Google Express' Midwest hub of Chicago and the retailers here have the capacity to offer the service.

Of course, the big target here for Google is its tech rival, Amazon.

During a recent European trip, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, outlined the rivalry.

“Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon," he said. "People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon.”

There is a lot at stake in the growing delivery market. It is currently a  $10.9 billion industry, which is expected to grow by of 9.6 percent by 2019. The U.S. market for same day delivery, which Google Express offers in San Francisco and Chicago, is predicted to swell to $4.03 billion by 2018.

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 16, 2015

Rochester's ProBuild to pack up on Monday

A large building supplier in Rochester announced this week it is closing its doors on Monday.

The manager of ProBuild sent out letters to customers on Thursday saying the large construction operation along U.S. 14 West at 2953 Wilder Road N.W. is closing "effective Oct. 19."

No one at ProBuild or at its corporate office would confirm the closing on Thursday. The operation has an estimated 8 to 10 employees.

6a00d83451cc8269e2010535cefa84970b-320wiThe letter was sent by Dave Mills, ProBuild's area manager based in the Twin Cities.

Mills wrote that ProBuild made the decision to close "After careful review of the market conditions and our operational footprint in Rochester …"

The letter said ProBuild's sites in Mankato, Lakeville and Waseca will take over coverage of the Rochester market. ProBuild has about 30 locations in Minnesota.

The move comes just two months after Colorado-based ProBuild was acquired by rival Builders FirstSource for $1.6 billion. Builders FirstSource, headquartered in Dallas, said the combined company is expected to have annual revenues of about $6.1 billion.

Before it became part of a billion dollar deal, the Rochester construction supplier was a United Building Center. UBC was started in 1855 in Winona by three brothers,  William, Matthew and John Laird.

ProBuild acquired all of the UBC locations in 2006, and the ProBuild name went up on the Rochester site in 2008.

In July 2014, ProBuild closed its Austin lumber yard. It had eight on staff when it closed.


October 15, 2015

Is the Thickburger returning to Rochester?

It's been a long 14 years for Rochester fast food fans with a taste for Hardee's.

The restaurant known for its outlandish hamburger creations such as the Mile High Bacon Thickburger closed its doors in the Med City abruptly in 2001. Three Hardee's in Rochester and one in Stewartville closed their doors after franchisee Andris-Crawford Enterprises re-organized during bankruptcy. The four restaurants had 95 employees when they closed up shop.

HardeesADHowever, the over-the-top TV commercials still play locally, teasing people with gigantic mash-up burgers they can't have unless they drive to Winona or Austin.

And then the buzz started this summer that Hardee's and its smiley face star logo might be ready to make a comeback in Rochester.

Some calls to CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns St. Louis-based Hardee's and its California sibling Carl's Jr., eventually got a response in the form of a short email.

"We do have plans to open a Hardee’s in the Rochester area in the coming future, but at this time we cannot share any specifics on an opening date. We will keep you updated," wrote Melissa Penn of Hardee's.

So they are coming back to town … soonish. There's no word on where in Rochester or if there might more than one coming.

Whenever and wherever Hardee's opens, it will find a much more competitive Med City than when it left 14 years ago.

Many local spots in Rochester are well-known for their burgers such as hometown favorite Newt's, Wildwood Sports Bar, Fat Willy's and Rooster's Barn and Grill. The number of McDonald's, Burger Kings and Culver's locations have grown.

In 2009, Five Guys Burgers arrived and threw down the burger battle gauntlet. This summer, the trendy Smashburger chain also confirmed it has plans to be in Rochester sometime in 2016.

I guess we'll see just how big of an appetite Rochester has for fast food burgers. 

October 09, 2015

West Circle Drive Hy-vee by the numbers


Some numbers to know about Rochester's fourth Hy-vee grocery storeopening at 4211 W. Circle Drive NW.

09102015hyvee6• Oct. 20 - Opening date.
• 550 - Total number of employees.

• 125 - Part-time employees still to be hired.

• Oct. 12 - the next employee hiring event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

• 94,0000-square-feet - the size of the largest of Rochester's four stores.

• 67,000 - the number of product items on the shelves.

• 8,500 - the number of products in the Health Market section, more than any other Hy-vee.

• 2 - Windmills in parking lot that generate energy for the electric car charger stations.

• More than 150 - Number of cheeses in the Charcuterie (Shar-coot-er-re) department.

• $100 or more - Minimum online grocery order Hy-vee will deliver to your home for free. Delivery charges will apply to smaller orders.

Cheap chic coming to the heart of the Med City

Cheap chic is coming to the heart of downtown Rochester.

Primp, a popular boutique with six Twin Cities stores, is slated to open a Rochester location in November, before the holidays.

09102015primpsiteCo-owner Michele Henry says the first Primp shop outside of the metro area is moving into the high-profile Peace Plaza space on the corner of 100 First Ave. SW. That's the storefront where O&B Shoes sold footwear until it moved less than a block away to 19 First Ave. SW in August.

"We were looking at a lot of places. But when this space came, we dropped all of the other locations," Henry said. "There is such a great energy in downtown Rochester."

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate Services brokered the deal to bring Primp into the Rochester market

Michele Henry and Wesley Uthus launched the first Primp store just five years ago, when they were both 25-years-old. The idea was simple: to offer inexpensive, fun fashion.

"Our whole tagline is 'Cheap, chic boutique.' Everything is under $100. Most are under $50 and we put new things out every day," Henry said.

Primp carries a full array of women's apparel, from fancy dresses to denim and sweaters. Primp also stocks plenty of accessories, like handbags, jewelry and scarves.

Moving beyond the Twin Cities is a big step, but Henry and Uthus are very excited about coming to the Med City, Henry said, adding that many Primp customers, as well as employees, have been asking them to come to Rochester for a while.

Now they have a high-profile location in the center of the city. The next step is to prepare the store and hire a team of 10 fashionable employees.


October 08, 2015

Will sale of North Broadway building attract developers?

The sale of a building on Broadway Avenue North clears the way for future development on a prominent block.

08102015MLT1Mike Pruett, co-owner of MLT Groupwhich is in the building, said he sold the 140-year-old brick structure that he owns with his wife, Dawn, at 411 Broadway Ave. N, on Wednesday. Real estate investor Les Nelsonof Clear Lake, Iowa, purchased it for $600,000, Pruett said.

"I'm happy with the price I got," he said. The Pruetts bought the building for $235,000 in 2003.

Nelson now owns most of that side of the 400 block of Broadway. He recently demolished two nearby empty buildings at 401 Broadway Ave. N and 407 Broadway Ave. N to make the area more attractive for developers.  08102015MLT2

After the demolitions, the Pruetts' building stood alone in the middle of the block. Amid the hype of the Destination Medical Center initiative, Rochester real estate prices have skyrocketed in recent months. Pruett's location made his building more valuable, since it is an obstacle that could keep developers away from the block. 

Besides housing the Pruetts' businesses, MLT Group and MLT Video, the building also has four apartments. All four currently have tenants. However, one has a lease until Dec. 31, while the three others are month-to-month.

After the tenant's lease ends in December, Pruett expects Nelson to knock down the building.

He plans to move MLT Group, which he owns with partner Ted St. Mane, and MLT Video to a business condo in the Plaza 14 West center at 4481 North Frontage Road. Pruett hopes to build out the unfinished 11,090-square-foot space and move the businesses at the end of November.

"It will be nice to have a change and a newer facility, though it's a little sad," he said.

Pruett said the new offices should work out well for his team of 10 to 12 employees, because it will have more usable space than the current building.  

October 07, 2015

The 5 top Rochester real estate sales in 2015 so far

• $15 million - Maplewood Square sold on Sept. 29.

Sold_sign• $10 millionMiracle Mile shopping center sold on May 15.

• $7.2 million - The Hampton Inn at 1755 S. Broadway sold on Feb. 6.

• $5.4 million - Former Menards store at 5150 U.S. 52 North sold on March 17.

• $4.5 million - Prosthetic Laboratories center at 121 23 Ave. S.W. sold on Jan. 30. 

Rochester shopping center sells for $15 million

Rochester's largest real-estate sale of the year closed on Sept. 29, when a 25-year-old shopping center sold for $15 million.

Maplewood Square, anchored by Best Buy, Fareway Foods and Ashley Furniture, was purchased by SGO MN Maplewood LLC, of San Mateo, Calif. The sale was part of a larger deal that included 15 commercial properties. North Dakota-based Investors Real Estate Trust sold the properties for a total of $79 million.

IretwordpressheaderMaplewood Square was its sole retail property in Rochester. IRET previously announced its plans to divest itself of all of its retail centers to expand its housing portfolio, including a $56 million Rochester deal to acquire Grandeville at Cascade Lake on Second Street Southwest, a 276-unit multifamily community now owned by LeCesse Development Corp. of Florida.

IRET announced in August that it had signed a purchase agreement to acquire Grandeville. Cindy Bradehoft, IRET's director of investor relations, said on Monday the company expects that deal to close soon, possibly within two weeks.

Once IRET takes over ownership of Grandeville, its tally of Rochester units will exceed 1,300. It currently owns more than 1,100 Rochester housing units in nine properties, including Quarry Ridge, Olympik Village and Sunset Trail.

IRET Vice President of Investments Matt Volpano previously said Grandeville, built in 2007, is a good property and could become "a core plus stable asset" for IRET. 

"Rochester is one of our largest markets," Volpano said.

If Grandeville sale does close for $56 million as anticipated, the sale will dwarf the Maplewood Square deal and easily take the title of largest Rochester real-estate sale of 2015.


October 06, 2015

Rochester co-op manager moves up to CEO job

People’s Food Co-op has named the Rochester store manager Lizzy Haywood to serve as the organization's CEO and general manager.

Haywood, who has led the Rochester store since it opened in 2013, took over the role on Sept. 28. She is now based in La Crosse, Wis. at the People's Food Co-op headquarters and original store. 

115840_7644_339_lizzy_haywood"The Rochester store manager position has been posted and we are accepting applications," said People's Marketing Director Ann Mull on Tuesday.

Haywood had been serving as interim CEO and general manager since Aug.19, when the previous CEO Michelle Schry resigned to take another job. Prior to coming to Rochester, she was the general manager at the Bluff County Co-op in Winona.

The People's Food Co-op in La Crosse merged with Rochester's Good Food Store in 2011. The organization then moved the cooperative into downtown Rochester.  The almost 27,000 square-foot People's Food Co-op opened on the main level of Rochester's Metropolitan Market Place complex at 519 First Ave. SW in 2013. 

The La Crosse organization is one of the 25 largest food cooperatives in the U.S. It has more than 8,000 member families in Rochester and La Crosse and annual revenues of $25 million.