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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.

September 15, 2015

High-profile 2nd Street property sold for residence

After years of being up for sale, a long-time Second Street Southwest business recently sold for $272,000.

On Sept. 1, Dick Saterdalen sold the 64-year-old house at 2120 Second St. S.W. where he lives and operates Dick's Auto Sales. He also previously ran the Liquidation Store at the site. He sold the property to Abdullah M. Aljaberi, according Olmsted County property records.
Saterdalen says he will continue to run Dick's Auto Sales at the site until Dec. 1, when he will move the operation to a small farm on Rochester's Viola Road.

Aljaberi is reportedly planning to renovate the house and use it as a residence, according to Saterdalen.

That Second Street house/storefront was in the news in 2013, when the City of Rochester began its $7 million re-construction of the area now dubbed as "Uptown." When a new median was built in front of the property, the 24-year-old business lost its direct left-turn access as well as on-street parking spaces.

Saterdalen complained that the Uptown project killed a deal he had with a bank that wanted to buy his property.  He also protested the assessment that the city charged him for the project.

Overall, Saterdalen blamed Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center Initiative for forcing his old-fashioned business/residence off of Second Street.

September 14, 2015

Firm settling into new offices along West Circle Drive

An engineering and architecture firm settled into its newly renovated digs in northwest Rochester last week.

Crookston-based Widseth Smith Nolting officially moved into the former Home Design Studio at 3777 40th Ave. NW on Thursday. WSN opened a Rochester site in 2009, which has grown into one of the largest of its seven offices in Minnesota and North Dakota. It now houses a staff of 21.

7f0e237b3c81468f9c2209c9df28e638It moved from a 4,500-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road NW.

To accommodate its rapidly expanding needs, WSN purchased the 32,000-square-foot complex on West Circle Drive for $1.6 million in February.

"We looked at lot of different buildings all around the city. We really like this building," said Brian Carlson, WSN's director of business development in Rochester, earlier this year. "We liked the exposure. We liked the location and the ability to have our whole team in one spot."

WSN, which merged with Rochester's Kane and Johnson Architects in 2014, has been renovating the building for several months.

In addition to creating offices and conference rooms for its staff, WSN has carved out parts of the building for commercial tenants. Many prospective tenants are seriously considering leasing the space, but none have been announced yet.

This project has breathed new life into the unique nine-year-old building along West Circle Drive.

It was designed by Kane and Johnson Architects as a home builders' showroom with model kitchens, bathrooms and other room layouts. Spearheaded by local contractor Jerome Bigelow, a group of 13 owners optimistically launched the operation with a grand party attended by hundreds of Rochester business leaders. It had 59 people on staff working for a variety of construction-related businesses. The last occupants moved out in April 2012.

Event Studio LLC, of Rochester, then bought the complex from Partnership 10, of Byron, in 2013 for $1.3 million. 

September 10, 2015

Want to 'sport' a new haircut?

While clipping might be a bad thing on the football field, it's to be expected at a new sports-themed business coming to south Rochester.

A male-focused barber shop franchise is bringing sports and haircuts together in south Rochester.

Owners Steve and Anne Ogren of the Twin Cities plan to open the first Med City location of Sport Clips, a new male-focused barbershop franchise that brings sports and hair cuts together. A banner for the new location recently went up in a storefront by Nupa Mediterranean Cuisine on Crossroads Drive.

"We're just waiting on Rochester building permits. We hope to be under construction any day now," said Steve Ogren. "We'd like to be open by late October."

He expects to hire 12 to 15 stylists.

09092016sportclipsTexas-based Sport Clips, one of the fastest growing franchises in the U.S., already has 39 locations in Minnesota. However, this will be the first in the southeastern area.

The concept follows the traditional barber shop walk-in model, with lots of large-screen TVs showing sports and stylists dressed in pro jerseys. They also feature basket court-style hardwood floors. A "MVP" treatment includes shampoo, haircut, hot towel and a neck and shoulder massage.

Ogren says when he was looking for business opportunities, he was impressed by the family-owned Sport Clips core philosophy based on a quote from legendary coach Lou Holtz. "Do Your Best. Do What's Right. Treat Others the Way They Want to Be Treated.”

"They offered the kind of culture I was looking for," said Ogren.

He added that he and his wife decided to open their Sport Clips in Rochester, because it seems to fit well with the city.

"It's a growing big city with a small town community feel," he said. 

September 09, 2015

Is Shefzilla invading Rochester?

Is a top Twin Cities chef set to trek down to Rochester and start cooking?

It looks that way, i Stewart_woodman_cover_560f media reports are correct.

After 12 years as an award-winning chef at many top Twin Cities eateries, Stewart "Shefzilla" Woodman is coming to the Med City to work as the top food expert at the Kahler Hospitality Group, according to an Eater Minneapolis article.

Woodman is known for launching such Twin Cities foodie spots like Five Restaurant & Street Lounge, Heidi’s and the Workshop. He also is known for his cookbook, "Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home."
Representatives from the Kahler hotels were not available to confirm the reports this morning.

However, an Easter article published last week quoted Woodman as responding to queries about his future with the cryptic message, "Rochester I am going to." The man known as "Shefzilla" had been teasing Twin Cities media with Tweets alluding to his leaving his position at Kaskaid Hospitality.

He had been working at Haskaid overseeing Crave, Urban Eatery, Union and the Workshop since 2014. His last day there was Sept. 4, according to Woodman.

He told Eater that he is taking over management of the culinary operations of the Kahler Grand Hotel and its sister hotels. The Kahler Hospitality Group's restaurants include The Grand Grill, Salute, Martini's, Crossings Bistro, Lord Essex, Freshens and Dunkin Donut.

The Kahler Hospitality Group has been tweaking its restaurants in recent years to keep up with the increasingly competitive Rochester food scene.

Some of Woodman's accolades over the years include being named one of Food & Wines "Best New Chefs" as well as twice being a semifinalist for the best Midwest chef award from the James Beard Foundation.

September 03, 2015

Don't expect a second Sam's Club in Rochester

Destination Medical Center has many companies eagerly expanding their footprints in Rochester, though one huge retailer has decided to put on the brakes.

After years of discussion, Walmart has ended its plans for a second Rochester Sam's Club store.

6a00d83451cc8269e201a73d8867a9970d-250wiFor about eight years, I've asked a succession of Walmart officials about the possibility, as rumors repeatedly surfaced that a south Sam's Club complex could be built in the Shoppes on Maine area, possibly near the the 48th Street Southeast exit.

The answers from the Bentonville, Ark.-based giant always were vague, until last March, when Walmart's director of communications sent a positive response.

"We are always looking for opportunities to better serve our Rochester customers and are making plans to add a second Sam's Club to serve the growing need among area customers who want to buy wholesale merchandise in bulk at affordable prices," stated Delia Garcia by email.

However, those plans have changed between then and now. Garcia wrote another response to a request for updated information this week.

“We are constantly evaluating and refreshing our strategy to best serve our members and have decided this is not the right time to pursue a Sam’s Club in Rochester," she wrote.

Garcia could not expand on why Walmart decided to put the brakes on plans for a south Sam's store to complement its pair ofWalmart Supercenter stores on the north and south sides of the city, as well as a north Sam's Club warehouse.

The reversal does fit with a prediction from last spring by a Minnesota retail expert.

"It makes no sense at all," said David P. Brennan, a professor of marketing at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and co-director of the university's Institute for Retailing Excellence. "In regard to Rochester because of its size and relative ease of getting around, you don't need two stores to cover a market that size. It just doesn't make sense." 

Sam's Club has nine stores in the Twin Cities area and each does about $65 million to $75 million in business per year, according to Brennan. Costco has six stores in the metro region. Each of its stores move an estimated $120 million to $130 million of merchandise per year. 

September 02, 2015

Golden Hill School sells for $1.8 million

GoldenhillschoolWhile I'm on a roll of reporting Rochester commercial building sales, here's an item from my colleague Taylor Nachtigal's Notebook piece from last night's Rochester School Board meeting.

We're checking with Ryan Cos. about what the plans are for the property. Ryan was the developer behind the Rochester Marketplace/ Target North/ Home Depot commercial area, but they sold that off a few years back.

Whatever happens, I'd say it's a safe bet that the worn-out, 36,000-square-foot ex-school building is not long for this world.


The Rochester school board on Tuesday unanimously approved the sale of the district's Golden Hill School to Ryan Cos. of Rochester for $1.8 million.

The property, at 2220 3rd Avenue SE, last served the district as an alternative learning center, but programming was moved to another site after Golden Hill suffered heating and ventilation problems.



September 01, 2015

Celyad, Medisun collaborating on new China deal

Two international firms with deep Mayo Clinic and Rochester ties are joining forces for a new $22.4 million collaboration. 

Belgium-based Celyad, formerly called Cardio3, announced Monday it's entering into a new venture and distribution deal with its partner, Medisun International Limited, for its C-Cure cardiac treatment. C-Cure is based on stem-cell technology called cardiopoiesis licensed from Mayo Clinic.

CelyadBoth Celyad and the Hong Kong-based Medisun continue to collaborate with Mayo Clinic and both are in the process of creating facilities in Rochester.

This new 15-year agreement between Celyad and Medisun guarantees Celyad will "conduct all clinical development and undertake any regulatory steps necessary for market approval in China, Hong-Kong, Taiwan and Macau (collectively 'Greater China')," according to a news release about the venture.

Medisun will fund that push with a minimum of 20 million Euros, or $22.4 million. In addition to the funding cash, Celyad will collect royalties and profit sharing. The royalty rates, based on the total revenues from C-Cure, are expected to range from 10 percent to 30 percent. Profit-sharing amounts will be based on total revenues after royalties are taken out. The profit sharing is expected to range from 20 to 25 percent.

"We are pleased to have this new license agreement in place with our local partner Medisun, which give us full control over clinical developments in these territories, fully funded by our local partner. Pending receipt of necessary approvals, we look forward to giving access to this technology to patients in Greater China," stated Celyad CEO Christian Homsy in the release.

6a00d83451cc8269e201b8d0c98293970c-120wiCelyad is paying rent on the entire fifth floor, or 14,963 square feet, in the city of Rochester's Minnesota Biobusiness Center. The city signed a lease with Celyad earlier this year for it to develop a prototype manufacturing facility in the downtown building. Construction has been underway for months, but is not yet completed. The five-year lease calls for Celyad to pay a rent of $18 per square foot, or $22,444.50 per month. The city agreed in the lease to pay for $600,000 in equipment and improvements to the space.

Local officials hope to convince Celyad to build a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with 350 employees in Rochester, according to officials at Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.  Celyad also has plans to build a U.S. headquarters in Boston.

The company recently reported a $17.04 million loss for the first half of 2015. It lost $18.1 million for the whole year in 2014, up from $15.9 million in losses in 2013. Dr. Homsy told Reuters last week the company has enough cash to make it through the end of 2017.

The company did an initial public stock offering in 2014, which yielded about $500,000 worth of shares for Mayo Clinic.

Medisun also is collaborating with Mayo Clinic on a project to bring more patients from China to Rochester for treatment. While Medisun began building a $1 million office in the H3 Plaza building in downtown Rochester earlier this year, it recently put an end to that project.

Mayo Clinic, however, has confirmed it still is working with Medisun. Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Duska Anastasijevic said she didn't believe "the scope and nature of the relationship has been impacted or altered, just the planned location of their offices has changed." 

She added that Mayo staff working with Medisun said the company will be using one of its Rochester homes as "a guest house" and headquarters for the project. Medisun CEO Danny Wong personally owns two houses in Rochester. He bought a house at 2515 Crest Lane SW for $1.4 million as well as one at 615 10th Ave. SW for $1.31 million. It is not known which property will serve as the guest house.