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1364 posts categorized "Speculation"

March 03, 2016

Sports Authority to hit the showers

It's official.

SportsauthoritylistSports Authority is closing its Rochester location as well as 139 other stores as part of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


Rochester employees began telling customers last week that the 33,000-square-foot store at 80 25th St. SE would be closing soon. On Wednesday, the Englewood, Colo.-based company filed for bankruptcy.


As part of that filing, it submitted a list of 140 stores that it will be closing or selling within the next three months. The sporting goods retailer has 463 stores in 41 states and Puerto Rico.

Rochester's Sports Authority has been open in the Broadway Commons commercial center since 2001. 56cc794c4ca4b.image

"We are taking this action so that we can continue to adapt our business to meet the changing dynamics in the retail industry," CEO Michael Foss said in a written statement. The executive said that it needs fewer stores, as consumers are increasingly shifting to online shopping.

Sports Authority stores will remain open and run on normal schedules during the Chapter 11 process. The company's website will continue to function, and the chain plans to honor warranties on items purchased at its stores or online.

In a letter to customers posted on the company's website, Foss said that Sports Authority's long-term plan includes upgrading stores and improving its website.

Foss said that The Sports Authority Inc., which is privately-held, has received interest from third parties that may want to invest in or buy some or all of the business. The company plans to continue evaluating all of its options, he added.

Sports Authority said that it expects to have sufficient liquidity during the Chapter 11 process when factoring in cash from operations and anticipated access to up to $595 million in debtor-in-possession financing.

In 2014, Sports Authority ranked fourth with $3.4 billion in revenue among U.S. sporting goods chains. Dick's is the leader with with 603 stores nationwide, including one in Rochester,  and $6.5 billion in revenue. Academy Sports ranked second and Bass Pro Shop came in third.

Sports Authority has 470 stores, according to Statista. According to a Moody's research note, Sports Authority reported more than $2.6 billion in revenue for the 12-month period that ended in October.

The Broadway Commons center, which also features Kohl's, changed hands in January, when Austin, Texas-based EREP Broadway Commons bought the 131,931-square-foot retail complex for $14.5 million. They bought it from Inland Private Capital Program, of Oak Brook, Ill.

The 15-year-old shopping center was appraised at $15 million, according to state documents. Inland originally acquired the property in 2002 for $16 million. Olmsted County estimated its 2016 market value at $11.23 million.

It originally was built by Wisconsin-based Continental Properties in 2001.

Indian cuisine on way to downtown food court

IMG_0362It looks like a new Indian cuisine place will soon start cooking in the First Avenue Food Court in Rochester's downtown skyway.

The sign recently went up for Blue Diamond Indian Cuisine in front of the vendor spot last occupied by Mexican eatery.

I haven't talked to them yet, but I pretty sure Blue Diamond is vendor some people might remember from summer events at the Squash Blossom Farm in Douglas.

I should have more on this soon.

February 10, 2016

North Menards to grow a little bigger

After being open less than two years, Menards is planning a small expansion at its north Rochester store.

The 90,000-square-foot store opened in April 2014 near the intersection of U.S. 52 and 65th Street Northwest. Menards also has another Rochester store at 3000 S. Broadway.

5342bd12e28c4.imageNow, the Wisconsin-based home improvement retailer has filed permits for a small 12,914-square-foot garden center with a mezzanine area. The permit estimates the value of the project at $193,000.

The store already includes a garden center as well as a full-service lumber yard and an extensive array of tools and appliances.

A Menards representative didn't have a lot to say about this project, other than to describe it as "a few changes."

Presumably, the work on the expansion will start soon, to be ready for the spring garden season.

Menards built the store on 35 acres in 2014 to replace its previous north store at 5150 U.S. 52 North, which is smaller. Jim Sather and Mark Byer bought that building and moved their Furniture Superstore and America's Mattress stores into that building.

 

January 28, 2016

Semiconductor maker to open new Rochester office

GlofoAfter its $1.3 billion acquisition of IBM's computer chip operations in 2015, an international semiconductor company is setting up a new office in Rochester.


GlobalFoundaries, which is owned by an investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government, bought IBM's Microelectronics Division in July 2015. That deal gave the California-based company a footprint in Rochester.


"As part of this transaction, we acquired a team of about 30 engineers based in Rochester. These engineers are part of the global design team for our application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) business unit," said Jason Gorss, senior manager of corporate and technology communications.


GlobalFoundaries' deal also included major IBM facilities in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Burlington, Vt. 3555-9th-St-building-front-690x410

That team has continued to work at IBM's Rochester campus since the acquisition. Now the company is renovating an off-campus space in north Rochester. GlobalFoundaries is revamping a spot at 3555 Ninth St. NW. That's in the commercial center off of West Circle Drive, behind Kwik Trip.

Semiconductor maker PMC-Sierra operated there from 2010 to 2012. PMC-Sierra was collaborating with IBM at that time on "a multicore, multithreaded RAID solution." The resulting maxRAID device was used in IBM's System x EXA servers. That office closed when PMC-Sierra abruptly pulled out of Rochester.

Since PMC-Sierra left, the about 8,000-square-foot space has been briefly used by other tenants, such as the Minnesota Department of National Resourcesand outdoors retailer Scheels as a hiring office for its large Rochester store.

Gorss expects GlobalFoundaries to be in up and running in the spot in the near future.

"Beginning some time in Q2 2016, we plan to move this (Rochester) team into the independent office," he said in an email.

 

January 12, 2016

Colorful downtown Mexican restaurant goes dark

It looks like El Loro has flown from Rochester as the Mexican eatery on Fourth Street Southeast has been dark for days. 

El-loro-logoEl Loro, which translates to The Parrot, opened in the old Chicago Great Western train depot at 20 Fourth St. SE in 2012. It is owned by Marcos Gomez, who owns a number of other Mexican restaurants in Minnesota with his brother.

The restaurant now sits closed and has been that way for days. Details of the closure are unknown, as Gomez has been unavailable for comment at his other restaurants.

The El Loro website lists restaurants in Bloomington, Burnsville, Savage and Hutchinson. Rochester recently has been removed from the list.

El Loro's abrupt closure comes on the heels of the building's recent sale.

The 115-year-old depot building was purchased for $800,00 in November by a collection of local and out-of-state investors under the name of The Med City Restaurant Group.

Realtor Nick Pompeian of Realty Growth Inc., who handled the deal, said the new owners had no plans to change anything and hope to keep a restaurant operating in the building.

"They just saw this as a good opportunity to own a piece of downtown," he said at the end of December.

So whatever happens next, it seems likely that a restaurant eventually will fill t 01112016depotplaquehe depot again. However, it's unclear how soon something like that could happen.

Before  El Loro, it housed another Mexican restaurant. In 2001, Jorge Ocegueda opened Dos Amigos in the depot. In 2011, he revamped the eatery and renamed it as Paseo del Rio. Paseo del Rio had a short run and soon was replaced by El Loro in 2012.

The depot originally was built in 1899 by Winona & Southwestern Railroad at the intersection of First Avenue and Second Street Southeast. Two years later, the line was sold to Chicago Great Western, which moved the building north across the river in 1903 by cutting it in two, placing each half on a flat rail car, and reassembling it at 19 Second St. SE.

In 1949, the structure was remodeled to also serve as a terminal for the Jefferson Bus Lines. The last passenger train left the depot in 1950, but Jefferson remained until 1987.

It then was sold to the city and slated for demolition until a "Save the Depot" citizens group temporarily moved it near the power plant at 533 First Ave. N.E. It was moved across the street a year later to allow Marigold Foods, now Kemps, to expand.

In 1997, Bruce Kreofsky & Sons acquired it at no cost from the City of Rochester. Kreofsky renovated it and moved it to the current location. Rochester Depot LLCof Plainview, which is connected to Kreofsky, acquired it at no cost in September 2010.

 

January 06, 2016

Alliance@IBM dissolves after 17 years

After almost 17 years, a group attempting to organize a union at IBM is closing up shop.

Lee Conrad announced the dissolution of Alliance@IBM on Tuesday. The Endicott, N.Y.-based organization was affiliated with Communications Workers of America. It has been an outspoken critic of IBM and its treatment of its employees since it formed in 1999.

Allianceibm-220x64"Years of job cuts and membership losses have taken their toll. IBM executive management steamrolled over employees and their families," wrote Conrad, Alliance@IBM's national coordinator. "We tried to push back when we could, but we didn't have enough people power to change the working conditions or stop the massive job cuts or offshoring at IBM."

He estimated the membership of the Alliance@IBM never topped 400 at any point. That number has been shrinking in recent years to below 200 members at the start of 2016.

"Most are now ex-IBMers. The constant job cuts, the fear inside the workplace and offshoring have had a devastating impact on organizing," he wrote in an email. "We felt we have done all we could."

The Alliance@IBM grew from the IBM Employee Benefits Action Coalition, which had its roots in Rochester. That group formed in protest of IBM reducing employee benefits.

Former Rochester IBM employee Janet Krueger was the national spokeswoman for the coalition. It filed lawsuits, lobbied politicians in response to the pension changes and hired planes to fly protest banners during the Olmsted County Fair.

In 1999, Alliance@IBM was given the Disgruntled Employees of the Year award by Disgruntled magazine.

In recent years, Alliance@IBM has been best known for informally tallying IBM job cuts and commenting on layoffs. IBM stopped discussing layoffs and employee numbers at each campus, such as Rochester, in 2008. 

The Armonk, N.Y.,-based computer giant opened in Rochester in 1956 and soon became the top employer for much of the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1966, Mayo Clinic tied it, when each employed 3,600 workers. Mayo pulled ahead in 1967 with 3,850 employees compared to IBM's 3,800.

IBM's presence in Rochester, which topped out at more than 8,000 employees in the 1990s, has since been whittled down by layoffs and attrition to an estimated less than 3,000 today.

Insiders estimate that IBM has now slipped to the third spot on the list of top Rochester employers behind the Rochester Public Schools.

 

January 05, 2016

Credit union buys land for new branch

A Wisconsin credit union with plans to build a second Rochester branch recently bought a parcel of land for $1.25 million.

Altra Federal Credit Union bought land on Dec. 14 in the Chateau Circle commercial development at 55th Street Northwest and Chateau Road. That means the new branch will be located near the Walgreens drug store planned for that area.

O"We've been looking for a new spot to build a new full-service branch for quite a while," said Cheryl Dutton, vice president of marketing of the La Crosse, Wis.-based credit union. "The Rochester market is a very important market to us."

While the land is acquired, Dutton said the project still is in the initial stages, so there's no timeline yet.

Altra opened its first Rochester branch in 2012 at 123 16th Ave. SW in the Shoppes on Second development. It now has five on staff.

"The growth has been exceptional. However, it's a very small office in a very busy strip mall. To service our members better, we'd like to build a larger branch, usually 4,000 to 5,000 square feet," she said.

The credit union is aware residents in the Chateau Circle area have voiced some concerns about the commercial development in their neighborhood.

"We plan to be very good neighbors," said Dutton. "We think it's going to be a great area for us."

Altra began in 1931 as the Trane Employees Credit Union with a history similar to that of the IBM Mid-America Credit Union, which became Think Federal Credit Union. It has Minnesota branches in La Crescent and Winona. Overall, it has 17 locations in eight states.

December 09, 2015

Is Medisun's interest in Rochester cooling?

Of the three most expensive real estate listings for houses for sale in Rochester, two are owned by a Hong Kong billionaire who has not ever lived in them.

Danny Wong is the CEO of Medisun International Holdings Ltd., which is collaborating with Mayo Clinic to bring more Chinese patients to Rochester. Medisun also is a major investor in Celyad, formerly Cardio3, which is leasing an empty floor of the Minnesota Biobusiness Center in downtown Rochester.

734c36a08cc30596-4066082Wong purchased large Rochester residences at 615 10th Ave. SW and 2515 Crest Lane SW in the fall of 2014. He paid $1.3 million and $1.4 million, respectively. At the start of this year, Medisun announced a deal with Mayo Clinic.

"The medical service will be provided by Mayo, and everything else will be provided by Medisun," said then-Medisun spokesman Dr. Jason Zhang in January.

While in Rochester this summer, Wong had his photo taken at Mayo Clinic with local leaders, including developer Gus Chafoulias and Mayo's Lisa Clarke, who leads the Destination Medical Center initiative.

However, Medisun's interest in Rochester seems to have cooled a bit since then.

By summer, Medisun halted construction of a $1 million office on the west corner of Titan Development's H3 Plaza. The offices were slated to span part of the second and third floors of the building at 300 Broadway.

00e2d817d5550daa56a1d0ade5d78548l-m0oMayo Clinic commented at the time that Wong planned to use one of his two Rochester estates as a guest house for the Chinese patient venture. Construction to an indoor pool at 2515 Crest Lane SW began around that time.

That guest house project seems unlikely now, because Wong has listed both of his Rochester estates for sale. The 2515 Crest Lane SW house is priced at $1.7 million, and the 615 10th Ave. SW is listed at $1.4 million. If they sell at the list price, Wong will make $400,000 on his short-term investment.

Only one Rochester property currently is listed at a higher price — $2 million — than Wong's estates, according to the MLS listings. A total of 10 residences in Rochester currently are priced at more than $1 million.

Does the sale of these estates signal any changes in Medisun's relationship with Mayo Clinic? No one from Medisun was available for comment, but Mayo Clinic said nothing has changed.

"… We continue to work with the MediSun on specific engagements," stated Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Duska Anastasijevic by email Tuesday.

While those "engagements" continue to develop, there are two nice Rochester estates available for local home buyers.

December 08, 2015

Change is on the menu for Lost Cajun

Looks like change is on the menu at Rochester's only Cajun eatery.

Joe and Theresa Peplinski's Lost Cajun restaurant at 2025 S Broadway didn't open its doors Monday. Signs out front and posted on the windows said the restaurant said, "Sorry. We're closed for remodeling. Stay Tuned..."

12072015lostcajunHowever, employees said they were notified by email Sunday night that the restaurant is closed for good. The Rochester restaurant is no longer listed as a location on the national Lost Cajun website. The Peplinkis also canceled advertisements by email, saying that the restaurant had "closed its doors."

The owners were not available for comment on Monday.

If the Lost Cajun is done, it's possible that another restaurant concept under new owners is in the works. That could explain the "remodeling" signs. At this point, it seems Rochester diners will need to do as the sign says and "stay tuned."

In the early summer of 2014, the Rochester couple was very optimistic when they opened The Lost Cajun. The southern flavored restaurant is a franchise based on the original Lost Cajun in Colorado.

They transformed a 19-year-old former SuperAmerica convenience store into a 1,900-square-foot  restaurant with a bayou decor.

The Lost Cajun is known for serving up gumbo, beignets, chicory coffee, po' boy sandwiches and other authentic Louisiana dishes. 

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.