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1427 posts categorized "Real estate news"

July 29, 2014

Custom Communications spins off music biz

A 46-year-old Rochester business is spinning off its audio and music business.

Custom Communications Inc., founded by Leigh J. Johnson in his basement in 1968, started in the background or "elevator" music business by providing sound systems and music for stores, restaurants and offices. He soon added security systems to Custom's offerings and that grew to be a major business driver for Johnson's firm. However, sound systems and background music remain an important part of the business.

L-SS8pdq1On Friday, the audio and security components will each follow their own paths under the Custom Communications' umbrella.

Sound and Media Solutions will open its own office in Suite 109 at 3003 43rd St. N.W. under the leadership of Nikki Johnson, Leigh Johnson's daughter. Meanwhile, Custom Alarm will continue to operate at the company's headquarters' at 1661 Greenview Dr. S.W. Melissa Brinkman, Leigh Johnson's other daughter, took over as CEO of Custom Alarm after he retired and began serving as chairman of company's board of directors.

"I'm real excited about it. I think this will better serve our customers," said SMS Managing Director Nikki Johnson. "The sound business is just a different type of business, with different sales people and different installers. This just makes sense."

Sound and Media Solutions sells equipment and services related to music systems as well as drive-through intercoms, public address systems and patient/nurse communications.

In addition to Nikki Johnson, the new SMS office is staffed with six other experienced Custom employees.

After its humble beginnings in Leigh Johnson's basement, Custom Alarm has grown to employ more than 70 people at its Rochester and Winona locations.

July 28, 2014

Mayo plans offices in former restaurant space

Mayo Clinic has decided to put administrative offices in the long-empty former Red Lobster space in downtown Rochester.

The roughly 6,000-square-foot space is on the street level of the 60-year-old Rosa Parks Pavilion building at 195 S. Broadway. Mayo bought the building for $2.37 million in 1997, and Red Lobster leased space there from 1987 until it closed in 2011 and opened in a new building by Apache Mall.
07272014exredlobsterspace
Since Red Lobster left, Mayo Clinic repeatedly has said it was looking at options for the prime downtown location. Even when Mayo Clinic began interior demolition in the former restaurant space in February, the official word was that no plans had been made for the spot.

That changed this week, when clinic officials confirmed their plans.

"We are in the process of converting the space into administrative space that can accommodate individuals and teams from different departments to co-locate for a period of time in order to collaborate on projects," Mayo's Kelley Luckstein said in an email. The space should be ready for staff to move in by November.

Given the clinic's seemingly endless need for space and its use of other nearby street-level spots for offices, the decision was not surprising, but it's disappointing for people who would like to see more street-level stores and restaurants downtown.

"Mayo Clinic did take into consideration retail space, but based on Mayo’s needs, this was the appropriate use of the space at this time," according to the statement emailed by Luckstein.

One critic of the decision is Adam Ferrari, a Rochester architect and an advocate for a more vibrant downtown. "I don't know who in public relations could defend how this is furthering the Destination Medical Center effort, but it's clearly contradictory," he said.

An official with the Rochester Downtown Alliance declined to comment on the change at this time.

While Ferarri was critical of Mayo's plans, he did acknowledge the clinic desperately is looking for office space. "Mayo is simply too hard up for space right now to let any square footage out of their grasp. That's my interpretation," he said.

July 22, 2014

Bea's Kahler group reaches beyond Rochester's downtown

The Kahler Hospitality Group, the Rochester company led by Javon Bea, is checking out the hotel market beyond downtown.

15344_b1The local buzz for weeks has been that the Kahler group, which owns four hotels in downtown Rochester, is taking the reins at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center at 1517 16th St. S.W.

While neither the KHG leadership nor Ramada team officially have admitted it, a recent Kahler email about catering changes seems to confirm that the hotels are now linked.

A mass email sent Monday by the Kahler group's new catering director included the Ramada logo among its hotel brands and it specifically pointed out that the Kahler's new policy opening its event spaces to outside caterers does not include the Ramada Hotel.

Chef Pasquale Presa, the Kahler's executive director of food and beverage operations, also includes the Ramada in the list of hotels under his management on his professional LinkedIn page. Local contractors also say that the Kahler group is talking to local builders about contracting for work on the Ramada complex.

The big unanswered question is whether the Kahler Hospitality Group has purchased the hotel from Rochester developers Dan and Terri Penz or if KHG has been contracted just to manage the Ramada facility.

No matter which is correct, the Kahler's involvement with the Ramada signals a major change for both organizations.

The Penzes also own the adjacent T.J. Maxx Shopping Center and Elcor Construction as well as other Rochester properties and businesses. They bought the hotel in January 2002 and changed its brand from Best Western to Ramada in 2004.

In 2011, the Penzes closed their hotel restaurant called Teresa's. That cleared the way for Joe Powers and his Powers Ventures firm to create new convention space within the hotel. At about the same time, Jim Nicholas leased space to open Wildwood Sports Bar in the Ramada complex. It's unclear what kind of impact, if any, the Kahler involvement in the hotel could have on the Powers and Wildwood operations.

On the other end of the deal, the Kahler Hospitality Group is a collection of five unidentified investors who bought the Kahler Grand Hotel, the Kahler Inn & Suites, the Marriott Rochester, the Residence Inn and the Textile Care Services industrial laundry for $230 million in 2012. Javon Bea, of Oronoco, is the well known public face of the organization.

In 2013, the Kahler group hired the Colorado-based Richfield Hospitality to manage the downtown hotels.

July 17, 2014

New plan: Newt's at Crossroads

After years in limbo, a plan to build a restaurant/bar in front of Rochester's Crossroads Shopping Center once again is moving ahead.

However, it won't be the long anticipated Buffalo Wild Wings. Instead, it'll be the latest version of Rochester's iconic eatery, Newt's.

Rochester restaurateurs David and Mark Currie are working on plans to build Newt's South as their ninth local restaurant. Their Creative Cuisine restaurants are the original downtown Newt's, the City Cafe, City Market Deli Downtown, City Market Deli South, the Redwood Room, 300 First, Newt's Express and Newt's North.

The project is in its early stages, so it may be a while before construction starts on the large rectangle of dirt and grass.

"If I could break ground today, I would," said David Currie, who owns and runs Creative Cuisine with his brother. "But I'm going to say it will be in the six-month range before it really gets going."

The sibl07162014bbwsignings are buying the site between the Andy's Liquor store and Home Federal Savings Bank from Tom Graf. Graf originally had hoped to build Rochester's second Buffalo Wild Wings there, but a series of legal disputes over parking eventually quashed that plan. The development plan, approved by the city, called for extending BWW's parking onto Crossroads property to have the required number of spaces.

Parking shouldn't be an issue for the new Newt's project because it will be smaller than Graf's proposed BWW. That means the restaurant and all of the required parking should both fit on the island of land in the Crossroads parking lot.

"I thought the Curries could make the best use of the space with the size of what they want to put on it," said Graf. "At the end of the day, it's a win for the shopping center."

07162014newtssouth1The first generation of Creative Cuisine dates to the 1960s with Jerry Zubay and Mike Currie, the father of Dave and Mark. Building a ninth restaurant will add to an already full plate for the brothers.

"The business is a lot of fun. We both love it and enjoy it. We're blessed to work with a ton of great people. That makes it super enjoyable," said Dave Currie of why they decided to open a new place.

Creative Cuisine employs 141 people. The Curries estimate Newt's South will need 20 to 30 employees.

This will be the first time the Curries have opted to construct a new building rather than adapt and renovate an existing site. They had shopped for a south Rochester spot for about a year before the Crossroads deal worked out.

"Building from the ground up took a lot more thought going into it. We're used to finding a 100-year-old building and then working with it," said David Currie.

They plan to build a restaurant similar in look and size to the quirky Newt's North location, which opened in 2011 inside the Wallin Building at 5231 U.S. 52 Frontage Road N.W.

The genesis for the project dates to 2011, when Graf purchased Tasos Psomas' Pannekoeken Huis restaurant and demolished it to make way for a second Rochester BWW.

Even though Graf decided "it just made sense" to have the Curries build on the site, it doesn't mean he's abandoning his own restaurant plans.

"There will eventually be another Buffalo Wild Wings in Rochester. It will happen. The city's big enough for at least one more," he said.

July 14, 2014

Ex-Pump & Munch to make way for new Caribou Coffee shop

More caffeine is on its way through Rochester's development pipeline.

A long-empty ex-BP Pump & Munch building at 451 16th Ave. N.W. is slated to be cleared away to make room for a new Caribou Coffee shop in northwest Rochester.

16thavepumpandmunchThe 1,804-square-foot stand-alone Caribou Coffee shop is planned for the high-profile spot, which will give the Minnesota coffee company access to both Civic Center Drive Northwest and the increasingly busy 16th Avenue North. The sit-down shop also will have a drive-through window.

Site plans still are working their way through official channels, but Mona Keehn says the hope is for the demolition and construction to begin yet this year.

Rick and Mona Keehn, who also own the Cariboucoffeedrawingadjacent Automotive Procare, bought the 3,000-square-foot building in 2011 for more than $730,000. They had hoped to find a tenant to lease it.

"We just couldn't find a good match," said Mona Keehn. "And then this came up."

042909pumpmunchBPciviccenter1jkIn the summer of 2009, all six of Rochester's BP Pump & Munch c-stores closed their doors for good. Since then, five of those buildings have either been re-purposed or demolished.

However, the 16th Avenue Pump & Munch has stood pretty much as it did in 2009. And now it will give up its spot for a new place for Rochester's growing population to grab a cup of coffee.

July 08, 2014

Cowboy Jacks now open on Broadway

The word is that Rochester's latest Western-themed eatery opened its doors and fired up the grill on Monday.

074After an extended build-out, Cowboy Jack’s is now cooking in the Wyndham Garden hotel at 1625 S. Broadway. That's the 145-unit hotel that was under the America's Best Value Inn and Suites brand from 2011 to November 2013.

Cowboy Jack's is a casual, American-style restaurant chain based in the Twin Cities.

The name and look of the hotel's bar and restaurant has morphed several times in the past few years. In 2008, it became Macho Nacho. Later it transformed into Ron's Place, which then became The Fieldhouse.

The Wayzata-based Bay Ridge Properties own the 40-year-old hotel. Bay Ridge purchased it in February 2012 for $4.8 million.

July 05, 2014

Courtesy Inn going down = Fairfield Inn going up

Demolition of the Courtesy Inn is picking up speed to clear the way for a new hotel to be built in northwest Rochester.

07042014courtesyinnOnce the old 44-room Courtesy Inn is torn down, a group of local investors will start construction of a 91-room, four-story Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel on the site at 510 17th Ave. N.W. That's near the Miracle Mile Shopping Center.

Parts of the Courtesy Inn date to 1952, when Marcel Prow opened Prow's Hotel.

The local investors are led by Nick Pompeian and Harshal Patel.

Construction of the Fairfield Inn is expected to take between six to eight months.

June 30, 2014

Consultants hired to create DMC blueprint w/ FULL CONTRACTS

Here's some of the lead-in to my package from the weekend about the $4.1 million  contracts for the consultants to create the Destination Medical Center plan to re-make Rochester.

There's a lot more detail in the rest of the package. So if you are interested in this topic, I'd suggest reading the full piece.

And for the document wonks out there like me, here's the 251 page PDF that includes all of the contracts with Nelson / Nygaard Consulting Associates of San Francisco; Kimley-Horn and Associates of Cary, N.C.; AECOM Technical Services of Los Angeles; and EE&K of New York.

Download Combined Consulting Agreements EDA(1)

 

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

Planning for a complex initiative like Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center doesn't come cheaply.

The surge of DMC hype already has national and international businesses fluttering around Rochester's sudden glow. The sale of commercial real estate is booming, particularly in the downtown core. New housing developments are being mapped out for the tens of thousands of people expected to move to Rochester for the forecasted 35,000 to 45,000 new jobs.

51687d3f5e0c6-image However, there's no blueprint yet for the $6 billion upgrade of the city's infrastructure, transportation systems, private development and more that's at the heart of DMC's vision of a Rochester better suited to accommodate more patients for Mayo Clinic.

Hiring a team to create a detailed plan for the massive undertaking to change the face of the city was a top priority for the public Destination Medical Center Corp. board of directors.

Public-private projects on this scale are rare in U.S., so there are not many examples to follow. National experts say sports developments, like the $975 million Vikings stadium and the new $622 million Atlanta Braves stadium, are about the only comparable projects to what is being proposed in Rochester.

The DMCC contracted with the DMC private Economic Development Agency, led by Mayo Clinic's Lisa Clarke, to handle hiring consultants to create the overall DMC "development plan." In December, the EDA board posted requests for proposal for six roles in the planning process.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upWith so much money on the table, proposals came in from 19 leading firms across the country and even overseas. Five of the teams vying for the contracts are based in Minnesota with three of them having offices in Rochester.

In April, the EDA wrapped up that six-month hiring process by contracting with four national consulting firms. Two were chosen to fill dual roles.

All of the consultants have had experience in major public-private projects, from stadiums to transit systems to airports.

Those four, plus another company hired in February, will be paid a total of $4.1 million this year to create the DMC's grand plan by February. That $4.1 million accounts for almost half of the DMC's total city-funded budget of $8.2 million for 2014.

In the end, all of the Minnesota hopefuls were passed over for the DMC planning jobs.

"The main factors that influenced our decisions was experience, knowledge of the market and the team they put forward. Those were the basic components we needed to consider as we moved forward," said Clarke. "I'm very confident that we have hired the best."

June 27, 2014

Mayo Clinic still mum on SE Rochester building

There's no question that an unmarked 22,000-square-foot commercial center is being built in south Rochester's Shoppes on Maine area.

The question is what will it be used for when completed?

The half-completed gray and blue building at 4544 Canal Place S.E. stands at the corner of Canal Place and Maine Avenue Southeast.

06262014mayoclinicsoutheastIt's described as "Future Mayo Clinic Southeast" in city building permits dating back to April. However, Mayo Clinic isn't acknowledging any involvement.

"We don’t have anything to share at this time. When we do — I’ll certainly let you know" is how Rebecca F. Eisenman of Mayo Clinic Communications responded to questions on June 18.

In April, Eisenman did acknowledge that Mayo Clinic is interested in the 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," she wrote. "Future options may include expansion of facilities and services in southeast Minnesota, but no specific details are available at this time."

The owner of the project is Canal Place Pointe Inc., which is based nearby at Suite 200 of 4325 Maine Avenue. That's also the address of the office of Maine Street Development Co. Tom Hexum, who manages the Maine Street Development projects with partner Ron Schultz from that office, filed the original land development application for the building. He says it's owned by a group of local investors, though he is not part of that group.

Hexum describes the building as a Mayo Clinic project.

Building permits show that just the structural shell of the Canal Place Pointe complex is valued at $1.4 million. There is a half-circle drive under an 880-square-foot canopy in front that would be handy for a medical facility. The parking lot features 109 parking spaces.

The whole facility, being built by Benike Construction, is on two acres of land. The local design firm SEH-Yaggy, formerly known as Yaggy Colby Associates, planned the project.

June 26, 2014

Knutson lands $17.3M contract to upgrade Rochester MnDOT complex

A Minnesota construction firm with a large Rochester-based office and team won the $17.3 million contract to renovate the MnDOT District 6 headquarters.

Minneapolis-based Knutson Construction was chosen last week as the "best value" contractor for the third phase of the major upgrade of the MnDOT and State Highway Patrol facilities at 2900 48th St. N.W.

MnDOT_Rendering-600x330Knutson will add a new 911 call center, a new data area, a lab to test road materials as well as conference rooms and offices to the older MnDOT building. Plans also call for installing solar panels and a new mezzanine.

Construction is slated to start on July 14 and should wrap up in October 2015, said Knutson senior project manager Derek O’Connor.

The construction team will be led by O’Connor. Others working on the project include: superintendent Sean Dols, assistant project engineer Mike Johnson, and project assistant Amy Jansen.

"We are excited to continue our relationship with MnDOT,” stated Dave Bastyr, Knutson's executive vice president of Minnesota operations.

Knutson was also in charge of the second of this District 6 project, construction of a new 122,000-square-foot maintenance facility, in 2011 to 2012. That was a $19.8 million contract for that phase.

In the past four years, Knutson has won 13 such best value contracts, including building the new City of Rochester Fire Station #2. It will replace the current one by Silver Lake. The new $7.7 million emergency center is being built on Viola Road in the Century Heights area. It's expected to be ready to use by February 2015.

Knutson opened its Rochester office in 1997, though it has a long history working on high-profile projects here. It built the original IBM facility in 1956 as well as Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building, the Ronald McDonald House and Hope Lodge.