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1355 posts categorized "Speculation"

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.

November 11, 2015

Sushi Nishiki goes dark … temporarily?

Rochester sushi fans noticed last week that the door was locked, the knives were put up and the lights were out at Sushi Nishiki.

11112015sushinishiskiHowever, it might not be the end of the Crouching Tiger roll or the Crazy Monkey roll.

A sign in the window says the closure is only temporary.

Word is the business at 2854 41st NW might be closed just as part of a transition to a new owner. However, no one is discussing details of the deal, because the sale is reportedly still being hashed out.

Lawrence Wong and Sammi Loo originally opened Sushi Nishiki in the Northwest Plaza, near IBM's hungry campus, in 2008.
In 2011, they also opened Impiana Kitchen and Sushi Bar at 318 S. Broadway — the former home of Sushi Itto/Katz's. Impiana Kitchen didn't find a niche on Broadway and it closed in 2013. 

Mango Thai
 soon moved into that spot and started cooking.

Insiders say that a similar change in owners is the story behind the Sushi Nishiki closure. I'll keep an eye on this to watch what happens next, because that's the way I roll. Heh.


October 28, 2015

New Roch. substation planned for Epic, Mayo Clinic growth

Mayo Clinic's partnership with Epic Systems, the largest electronic medical records firm in the United States, is driving the construction of a new $6.1 million Rochester Public Utilities substation.

Epic_Systems_112109_SignVerona, Wis.-based Epic Systems has been negotiating with RPU since June about the project. Epic says it needs more power capacity in the area to support future growth of the Mayo Clinic Data Center at 4710 West Circle Drive. The new Douglas Trail substation is slated to be built by the data center on land currently owned by Mayo Clinic.

The RPU board approved a "memorandum of understanding" about the project with Epic at its Tuesday night meeting. An escrow account already has been set up to fund project.

The memorandum states, "Due to the planned transfer of selected Mayo Data Center assets to Epic, Epic requests incremental electrical capability and capacity, needed to accommodate projected business growth in forward years…"
Epic has agreed to pay for the majority of the $6.1 million project, with RPU contributing $1.016 million for additional features that Epic doesn't need. The agreement also allows for Epic to apply  Mayo4710technologyparkfor up to $2.03 million in rebates over 10 years. The goal is to have the new substation up and running at least by April 1, 2017.

Rochester attorney Mark Utz spoke to the board as a representative of Epic. He said the deal  "Provides capacity not just for Epic, but a tremendous opportunity for the city of Rochester … to have a third substation in an incredible quadrant for Rochester. This is a win/win for the community, for RPU and for Epic."

Bruce Richards, Epic's director of facilities and engineering, assured the board his company is serious about coming to Rochester.

"This is a long-term situation for us. We're bringing in quite a few people to town," he said. "We'll start out with 80 to 90 people to the data center to work with Mayo Clinic."

Richards told the RPU board the additional capacity is needed for the potential that the current data center could grow to three times its current size.

Mayo Clinic built the $33.7 million, 60,000-square-foot computer support center in 2012. The data center was built to support all three of Mayo Clinic's campuses — Rochester, Jacksonville, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz.

"Epic is expected to take title of the property nominally in December 2015, with site grading to begin in spring 2016, according to the RPU/Epic agreement. The agreement also states that, "It is contemplated that the City of Rochester, for the benefit of RPU, will acquire from Epic the title of the real estate where the substation and related infrastructure will be located.

Richards did not elaborate on what Epic plans to do at Mayo Data Center, though remote hosting medical records is a possibility. In recent years, Epic built a massive data center in Verona, Wis. to offer remote medical record hosting for its clients.

6a00d83451cc8269e201b7c791bc82970b-800wiEpic and Mayo Clinic began working together early this year, when Mayo chose Epic to handle Mayo Clinic's electronic medical records. The relationship is developing into a close collaboration. Mayo's Chief Administration Officer Jeff Bolton has said that Epic has shown "a strong interest" in being part of the planned Discovery Square development in downtown Rochester. Discovery Square is part of Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative.

Epic has about 8,000 employees and had $1.8 billion in revenues in 2014. Epic's software already is used by about 350 health-care organizations that care for 54 percent of U.S. patients.

Mayo Clinic is not Epic's only major partner in northwest Rochester. In May, IBM Watson Health, the health care unit of IBM, announced it has begun working with Epic as well as Mayo Clinic to add the Watson' super computer's cognitive capabilities to electronic health records. It's not clear if IBM is involved in the West Circle Drive data center project.

October 26, 2015

How about owning a Dunkin' Donuts shop?

Want to own a Dunkin' Donuts shop in Rochester?

The Massachusetts doughnut maker is making a major push into Minnesota with 24 new locations planned in the Twin Cities area. But its plans don't end at the metro area's boundaries.

Dunkin' is also looking for a new franchisee to open about five more shops in Rochester.

06232014dunkindonutsRochester Retail Services, a division of the Kahler Hospitality Services hotel group, opened a shop here in June 2014 at 15 First Ave. SW in the Kahler Grand Hotel complex in the heart of downtown. It was the first one in Minnesota since 2005. Dunkin' said then that Rochester Retail Services would be opening five more shops in the next few years.

Dunkin' Donuts Senior Director of Franchising Patrick Cunningham says that plan has now changed.

"Rochester Retail Services, the franchisee of record, will continue to own and operate the existing restaurant in the Kahler. However, they will not develop more Dunkin' stores as we previously reported," he said on Friday. "At this point, (Rochester) is open for more entrepreneurs. We're seeking franchisee candidates for Rochester, Mankato and southern Minnesota." 

Cunningham said he couldn't comment on how sales have been for the Kahler's Dunkin' shop, since it opened last year with 40 employees.

Patrick Short, Kahler Hospitality's managing director of operations, said the Rochester shop is doing well.

"Dunkin sales are steady with visitors to downtown Rochester and to Mayo employees. There are currently 18 employees, but I understand that they are looking for more counter help in the store just like many other businesses in Rochester today," he wrote in response to questions last week.

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 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 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 06, 2015

Rochester 'Who's Who' breaks ground for new bank

A "Who's Who" of Rochester used golden shovels to toss scoops of dirt Monday to officially launch the construction of a new $7 million bank complex.

While construction crews have already dug a huge hole for West Bank's new Rochester headquarters, the Iowa-based bank bought out its leadership team and its well-known local community board members for a groundbreaking ceremony.

05102015westbankgroundbreakingThe bank has operated a branch office in Rochester, since 2013. The new two-story, 15,000-square-foot complex is completed in late summer to early fall of 2016. It will stand on the hill overlooking West Circle Drive Northwest, next to Rooster's Bar & Grill and across from McDonald's. The bank expects to have a team of about 12 employees to staff the new location.

"This bank is different. We're not all things to all people. This is a community bank focused on business," West Bank CEO Dave Nelson.

Despite being a 122-year-old Iowa bank, West Bank has deep roots in Rochester. Nelson was the president of Wells-Fargo Rochester for many years, before he took the reins of West Bank in 2010. He has recruited many of his former co-workers to staff West Bank's Rochester location.

"We know Rochester. We have experienced bankers who know how to work with businesses," he said. "As a community bank, we make local decisions. We're what businesses are looking for - predictable, dependable and accessible."

In addition to the staff, Nelson has recruited what he calls "a Who's Who" list of Rochester's business leaders to serve on West Bank's local community board. The board includes Gus Chafoulias, Joe Powers, Pat Deutsch, Sandy Keith, Dave Pederson Jim McPeak Sr., Hal Henderson, Pete Schuller, Ed Stanley, Tim Weir, Greg Groves, Charlie Kuehn, Dick Kuehn and Norb Harrington.

"It really is an endorsement of West Bank to have them all on the board," said Nelson. 

It focus on business banking means the new building with not look like most bank branches. While it will have a drive-through, it will not have many teller lines for customers. The West Bank building will have a large roof-top plaza for events as well as a large conference center for meeting.

"It is unlike any other bank in Rochester," said local architect Hal Henderson of HGA. 

Builder Pete Schuller of AB Systems pointed out that the site allows for extensive landscaping.

"It will be like a new park here. It's a great addition to Rochester," he said.

Rochester has seen many new financial institutions - Bremer Bank, Alta Credit Union, Manufacturers Bank & Trust Co. and F&M Community Bank - come into the market in recent years. Driving much of that interest has been Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative. However, Nelson says that's not the case with West Bank.

"DMC is not why we came to Rochester. We came because Rochester deserves a good community bank," he said.

October 01, 2015

A Mayo Clinic linked firm working with DMC planner to develop new Madison biosciences hub

A firm with deep ties to Mayo Clinic is making a move to anchor a downtown Madison, Wis., biosciences hub with help from the development manager of Rochester's Destination Medical Center initiative.

Exact Sciences Corp. licensed technology from Mayo Clinic in 2009 and 2012 for Cologuard, a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer. The test is based on research by Mayo Clinic's Dr. David A. Ahlquist and his laboratory.

LogoOriginally based in Boston, city officials at one point hoped Exact would move to Rochester. However, Madison gave the company $1 million to move its headquarters there in 2009.

Since then, the company has flourished, and now it's planning to build a new $200 million, 250,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Madison with $46.7 million in financial aid from the city.The Madison City Council recently OKed the deal, which requires that Exact will have 400 employees in the building by 2019.

The developer of the project is JDS Development LLC, which is a joint venture between Hammes Co. and Majestic Realty. Hammes is the Wisconsin consultant that is in charge of DMC. It also is working directly with Mayo Clinic on the Discovery Square portion of the DMC project. Hammes also has been hired by the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau to do a feasibility study for the proposed hockey arena to house a possible US Hockey League team here.

Hammesco_blue_logoHammes' Exact development will include a 250 room hotel, a food court, health and wellness facility, conference and media centers and lots of room for retail and restaurants.

Exact CEO Kevin Conroy told the Madison City Council that, "We hope that by having a life science company headquarters in downtown Madison, it will spur economic development throughout the region and have a positive impact on downtown."

September 17, 2015

Cocktails on the way at Mac's Restaurant

Diners at a popular Rochester eatery will soon find something new on the menu - cocktails.

Mac's Cafe and Restaurant, which has been cooking for more than 60 years on the Peace Plaza, recently was given a full liquor license. That means it can add mixed drinks to the beer and wine it already offers.

5177285Owner George Psomas says this addition is all about offering more choices, not changing the restaurant's family-friendly atmosphere.

"We're not going to be bar. We're just adding a few high-end drinks," he said. "The people have been calling for it. We're just giving the people what they want."

Expect the selections to reflect Mac's Greek heritage. Instead of a Bloody Mary, they plan to serve a Bloody Athena.

Adding cocktails to the mix is one of a few recent update for Mac's. It's Peace Plaza exterior received an extensive face-lift this summer. Plus he rolled out a new Mac's food truck, which has been making the rounds at Rochester events.

Psomas says he's fine-tuning a new offering for the food truck menu, but he's keeping the details of the new cultural combination under wraps until it's ready.

"It's going to be amazing. People that have tried it love it," he said.