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1306 posts categorized "Speculation"

November 08, 2014

Mayo Clinic docs make millions by consulting with drug/device companies

Here's some from the lead article in my package of stories about Mayo Clinic doctors and their financial relationships with drug/medical device companies in this weekend's Post-Bulletin.

FYI, the front page article is continued on page A2 and more articles and data are printed on page B4.

An unprecedented disclosure of payments from drug companies shows that $3.07 million for consulting was paid in 2,388 payments to Rochester-based Mayo Clinic researchers, doctors and hospitals during five months last year.

11082014drugmoneygraphicHowever, Mayo Clinic officials point out that they have a strict policy about such payments, which all must be approved by its Conflict of Interest Committee. Such policies, which many medical centers have, are a way of preventing medical professionals from being unduly influenced by money from drug companies in their decisions, such as what drugs they prescribe.

For the same period, Cleveland Clinic staff collected $4.3 million in private money for consulting, while Johns Hopkins Hospital employees took in a mere $4,627.

Dr. Richard Ehman, vice-chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee, said that Mayo Clinic's restrictive policies are unusual within the medical industry.

"We know all of the financial relationships of our staff. That's unheard of," said Ehman.

Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins urge their employees to disclose their private contracts, though they stop short of requiring it in every case, according to their policies posted on their websites. Mayo, Cleveland and Johns Hopkins all agree that a physician or scientist serving as primary leader of a research project are banned from having private contracts with the companies involved.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upHundreds of Mayo Clinic doctors are receiving millions from drug companies and medical device makers for private consulting every year, while many others are paid one-third of the royalties generated by their work.

Disclosing all of the financial contracts between private companies and doctors is the goal of the Open Payments website run by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It features a database of doctors and the money they receive from outside sources. It's now required by the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which was part of the Affordable Care Act health reform.

In late September, data from August to December 2013 was released on the site. This batch of records includes about 4.4 million payments made to about 550,000 doctors and 1,360 teaching hospitals. However, some of the information reported by private companies is incomplete, confusing and, in some cases, incorrect.

For Mayo Clinic doctors, 100 percent of the payments for private consulting go directly to them. Mayo began allowing such consulting contracts in 1999, when it changed the rule that required all consulting payments to go to the clinic.

The payments for those five months show all different types, including royalties, research money and royalties.

In addition to the consulting payments during those five months, a total of 68 payments totaling $3.01 million were made to Mayo Clinic for research, according to the database.

All research money, like grants, goes directly to Mayo Clinic.

However, physicians or researchers receive one-third of the amount of royalty payments received by the clinic from drug companies, according to clinic policy. During the five months of reports, Mayo Clinic received a total of $1.9 million in royalties.

Just one company -- DePuy Synthes Sales Inc., a subsidiary of heath care giant Johnson & Johnson, reported paying a total of more than $1.15 million to Mayo Clinic or its doctors in 278 payments from August to December.

In the wake of the recent federally-mandated deluge of information about the financial ties between doctors and private drug/medical device companies, Ehman explained that Mayo Clinic does allow its employees to personally profit from such agreements. However, every financial relationship must be approved by the Conflict of Interest Committee.

Mayo Clinic approved 1,003 consulting contracts for 308 doctors and researchers in 2013 to personally work with private companies on their own time. The Mayo Clinic committee, which meets every other week, approved 953 such agreements with 301 individuals in 2012 and 1,071 for 292 employees in 2011.

October 23, 2014

Former Flamingo roost to be razed

While Flamingo Bingo is rolling along in its new home in Rochester's Elks Lodge, it soon will be game over for its former home.

The empty building at 2828 U.S. 52 North is slated for demolition by its owner, the Twin Cities-based Luther Automotive Group. Luther filed for a demolition permit this week, though the company has no immediate plans for the property.

10232914flamingobingo"I'm simply taking it down because I just don't want to carry the building through the winter. The roof is compromised," said Linda McGinty, Luther's director of real estate and development. "We just don't have a use for it. When we do develop this site, that was a building that we weren't planning on reusing."

The car dealer bought the 42-year-old building for $950,000 back on Jan. 17. Soon after, McGinty said, "We're working on possible plans. We're just happy to be in Rochester. We're excited to be part of the vibrancy."

Luther also owns Park Place Motors, Rochester's BMW dealership. Since Park Place is nearby, Luther theoretically could use the ex-bingo property to expand Park Place or possibly to introduce a new dealership into the market.

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, moved out of the 2828 building in April and into the Elks Lodge 1091 at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

It had operated in that building since 2007. Prior to the creation of Flamingo Bingo, it was the home of Circus World Bingo, which raised funds for Rochester's Catholic schools.

September 23, 2014

Paint store, coffee/bagel shop may be coming to N.W. Rochester

If a few final details can be hammered out, a Sherwin-Williams paint store and combination Dunn Bros Coffee/Bruegger's Bagels shop could be coming for northwest Rochester.

TJL Development of St. Paul is planning to build a 4,000-square-foot building for Sherwin-Williams and a 2,500-square-foot building for the co-branded Dunn Bros/Bruegger's. They are slated for a parcel near Kwik Trip and Costco in the 108-acre commercial development at 19th Street and West Circle Drive. The development plans include other businesses, such as McDonald's, two hotels, an Aldi's grocery store and an Associated Bank branch.

This is not TJL's first foray into Rochester. It built a 4,000-square-foot paint store in 2013 for Sherwin-Williams in south Rochester, in front of the south ShopKo and Menards stores. That store replaced Sherwin-Williams' former south store, which was located in the defunct Rochester Market Square, which later became Rochester Public School's Alternative Learning Center.

If the northwest project moves ahead as planned, it is expected to replace Sherwin-Williams' current location at 19 Seventh St. N.E.

While TJL Principal Jim Lavalle says there are some aspects of the project that still need to be finalized, the company is moving ahead and has filed building plans with the City of Rochester.

"We're hopeful to start construction yet this fall," he said.

September 18, 2014

H3 Plaza's 1st tenant to move in during Dec.

The first tenant is expected to move into downtown Rochester's latest office building development in December, though the entire seven-story complex is not expected to be completed until the spring.

Titan Development and Investments, of Rochester, is building the $17 million building now called H3 Plaza at 300 S. Broadway. Construction began in March, when Titan demolished the former C.O. Brown building that previously stood on the site. H3 is a reference to Rochester's Historic Third Street, which is directly across Broadway from the building.

541ae78d4ef07.imageTitan will be the building's first tenant, with plans to fill the sixth floor with its offices in December. Titan, led by Andy and Gus Chafoulias, has about 25 employees working out of the Minnesota Biobusiness Center on First Avenue Southwest.

"We'll have it ready by then," said Joe Fort, project supervisor for Weis Builders, last week, as he stood inside the bare beams on the sixth floor and a crew of about 45 of his workers and local subcontractors worked around him. Fort expects to have the building enclosed and weather-tight before the full force of winter hits. That will allow them to work through the colder months to complete the first through fifth floors.

All but 6,000 square feet of the 43,000-square-foot building is already leased to local tenants, said Titan marketing and communications manager Shelia Thoma. That available space is divided between the second and third floors of the H3 Plaza.

The Nova Restaurant Group, which is led by Scott Foster and Pat Woodring, will fill the street level with an authentic Italian eatery as well as a rooftop patio bar and grill on the seventh floor. The rooftop patio will tower over Rochester's two nearby roof bars, Kathy's Pub and The Tap House.

Foster and Woodring have worked with Gus Chafoulias in the past, when they opened Chester's Kitchen & Bar in his Shops at University Square building in 2008 and Pescara in his DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in 2009. They haven't named the H3 restaurants yet, though they do hope to open the Italian place in the spring.

Sept.2014H3rooftopSide-by side elevators will take people to the rooftop patio, even when the businesses in the building are closed. H3 Plaza will be connected to the adjacent City Centre complex and the Holiday Inn skyway.

Med City Dental and Dunlap & Seeger law firm, two businesses being displaced from the Associated Bank Building at 206 S. Broadway, have leased space in the H3 Plaza. The dental office, owned by Dr. Fred Carlson, will be located on the second floor, and the law firm, Rochester's largest, will occupy half of the third floor and all of the fourth and fifth floors.

Developer Bloom International Realty of Abu Dhabi plans to demolish the Associated Bank building in 2015 and possibly build a high-end hotel.

Andy Chafoulias originally envisioned developing the H3 Plaza site as a three-story restaurant and entertainment venue in 2013. That plan evolved as information about Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative came out, along with the re-development plans for the Associated Bank building.

The Rochester City Council approved a special redevelopment tax-increment-financing district to raise $300,000 for Titan to cover the asbestos removal and demolition of the former C.O. Brown building. The council also prematurely labeled the H3 development as a DMC project.
 
Assistant City Administrator Gary Neumann said that since the DMC Corp. board of directors needs to approve any project before the start of construction, the H3 development doesn't qualify. However, the council's order states that any leftover money from the tax increment financing for the project could rollover to any nearby approved DMC projects, such as the anticipated update of Historic Third Street.

The pay-as-you-go TIF essentially reimburses the annual taxes the developers will pay, once the project is complete. The earliest Titan could see a payment was estimated at 2016.

Another, much larger, Titan development planned for the corner of South Broadway and East Center Street could possibly qualify as a DMC project. Spearheaded by Gus Chafoulias, the preliminary plan presented to the City Planning and Zoning Commission in March showed a 24-story, mixed-used complex featuring retail and restaurants, a 184-unit Embassy Suites Hotel on 11 floors, 84 apartments on six floors and underground parking. It was called Broadway at Center at that point.

Thoma said that project, which now is called The Legacy, is undergoing changes.

"A redesign with the hotel plans is the reason we are still in the design phase," she said.

September 04, 2014

Pending real estate deal spurs flower shop move

Flowers By Jerry will soon move its Third Avenue shop because a pending real estate deal could change scenery on the high-profile Rochester corner.

04092014flowersbyjerrybuckeyeOwner Kevin Patton says the sale of his building at 410 Third Ave. S.E. is in the works along with the adjacent Buckeye Liquor building, which he also owns. Robert and Diane Satterwhite own Buckeye and lease the building from Patton.

Patton is shifting his business offices and the floral design from the Third Street shop to Flowers By Jerry's other location by Silver Lake. That change could happen by the end of this month.

"We're consolidating that part of the business, but we're also branching out," said Patton said.

Patton is opening another store, Flowers By Jerry Lux Floral Boutique, in the TJ Maxx Plaza in southwest Rochester to replace the Third Street location. As the different name would suggest, this new location will be a new take of the standard flower shop.

Patton describes it as mix of a floral store with a women's clothing boutique with clothing, jewelery and home decor.

The floral boutique will be located just outside the entrance of TJ Maxx. Flowers By Jerry will move into the 2,500-square-foot space left open by Fox Nails' recent move to a new spot on the other side of the atrium.

If everything goes as planned, it's expected to be ready to open by the start of November, if not sooner. With all of the changes, Patton anticipates he may eventually need to add a new part-time position or two to his current staff of about 20.

While all of these plans are moving forward, details about what will happen on the corner of Third Avenue and Fourth Street are scarce at this point. The sale of the Flowers By Jerry and Buckeye Liquors buildings could close by the end of this month. However, Patton isn't discussing the buyer or any other details until it officially wraps up.

Given that corner's proximity to downtown and the Olmsted County Government/Rochester City Hall, some are speculating that the purchase of those two buildings is a sign that a developer wants to build a new commercial center, restaurant or hotel.

August 19, 2014

Work on Holiday's new Valleyhigh station is cruising along

It looks like construction of the new Holiday Station c-store at Valleyhigh Drive and 40th Ave. N.W. is pumping right along.

08182014valleyhighholidayWork on this station is further along than Holiday's other new station project at 19th Street and U.S. 52, but both mark a major push by the Bloomington-based Holiday to try claim part of the Rochester market from the ubiquitous Kwik Trips.

Holiday moved back into Rochester last year when it purchased seven SuperAmerica stations here. It already had one station here. Holiday closed and sold two of the SAs. However, Holiday will have eight stations total with these two new C-stores being built.

Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip has 13 stations in Rochester with plans for more in the works.

August 15, 2014

Mama Fu's Rochester eatery is 'indefinitely' postponed

Mama Fu's Asian House still wants to open an eatery in Rochester, but don't expect to try General Fu's Chicken here anytime soon.

The Austin, Texas-based "Asian-centric" restaurant chain says its plans for a downtown location near Mayo Clinic are "indefinitely" postponed at this point.

Mama_Fus_logo_V_rgbBuzz about the quick Asian cuisine brand has been simmering since last year when the PB's insatiably hungry Answer Man wrote a column in November that said Mama Fu's had marked off a space in the Kahler Grand Hotel for a Rochester restaurant. Building permit applications were submitted to the city. Signs went in up in the Kahler promoting the future arrival of the franchise.

In recent months, Mama Fu's CEO still was mentioning the future Rochester location in news stories about the chain's plans to open smaller places as well as it's expansion into the Middle East.

Mama Fu's was slated to part be of the Kahler Hospitality Group's growing portfolio of franchise food spots including, Dunkin' Donuts and Freshens.

However, the signs came down and talk of Mama Fu's eventually faded. Albert Im, marketing manager for the Austin company, cleared up the situation in email this week.

"Mama Fu's and our franchise partner were looking forward to opening this year in the Mayo Clinic area. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances and logistical issues associated with the site, we have postponed plans to open in Rochester indefinitely until our next steps are identified," he wrote. "While we have every expectation that Rochester will be a fantastic market for Mama Fu's Asian House, we are unable to determine a time frame for our emergence into the community."

So, it may be a while longer until the local franchise partner opens a Mama Fu's in Rochester. However, work is progressing quickly on the Kahler Hospitality Group's second Freshens cafe. It will be located in the Marriott Subway in the former home of The Crate.

July 30, 2014

Developer working on new projects in N.W. Roch.

A St. Paul-based developer is looking to follow up its first Med City project with a couple more in the increasingly active northwest quadrant.


TJL Development recently built a new 4,000-square-foot paint store for Sherwin-Williams in south Rochester, in front of the south ShopKo and Menards stores.

Now the firm is working on projects by the Costco complex in northwest Rochester.

"We're hopeful to soon finalize transactions for two free-standing buildings," said Jim Lavalle, principal of TJL Development.

If the deals work out as he hopes, TJL will construct a 2,500-square-foot building to be occupied by a co-branded coffee and food business as well as a 4,000-square-foot store for a national retailer. The developer would own the buildings and lease them to the tenants.

"Rochester is a great place to do business, is what we've found, and we'd like to do more business down there," said Lavalle of why his firm is working in the Med City.

These plans would just add to the flurry of construction already underway in front of Costco and Kwik Trip.

A new McDonald's restaurant is being built there to replace the older one on the U.S. 52 North Frontage Road. Construction also is buzzing along for a 77-room Comfort Inn and Suites and a 109-room Staybridge Suites in the same area.

Discount grocer, Aldi, also recently announced plans to build a 17,000-square-foot store within the same development, at the corner of 22nd Street Northwest and Commerce Drive.

The whole 108-acre area on the northeast corner of West Circle Drive and 19th Street Northwest is being developed by Northwest Investments, the real estate arm of Kwik Trip Inc. For years, Hans Zietlow of the La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip has said that spot is the "key property" on Rochester's west side.

With all of the dirt moving and walls going up, it looks like a lot of people agree with him. 

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 09, 2014

Does IBM have future in Vermont?

Here's a little chunk from a well-researched, long article written by Paul Heintz from Vermont's alt paper, Seven Days.

While there is no direct link (as far as I know) between the fate of the Vermont campus and the one in Rochester, this does sound familiar. For anyone interested in the what is happening with Big Blue, this is a pretty worth-while read.

You can read the full article at this link.

What we're looking at is a city," Frank Cioffi says, nodding at a sprawling landscape of industrial buildings, electrical transformers and storage tanks on the banks of the Winooski River.

The 59-year-old economic development guru steers his black Nissan Maxima toward a guard shack that stands sentry at the northeastern entrance to IBM's Essex Junction campus.

"We're not going to Bildebe able to get in," he says, pulling a U-turn and retreating from the fortress. "Security is watching us."

In more certain times, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation president might easily escort a reporter through the 725-acre campus, which GBIC developed from farmland 60 years ago. But with Big Blue reportedly nearing a sale of its chip-making division to Emirate of Abu Dhabi-owned GlobalFoundries, IBM Vermont is on lockdown.

Even Cioffi, its loudest local cheerleader, is in the dark about what a sale might mean for the 4,000-plus jobs remaining at the facility. Like many, he suspects IBM will reveal its intentions next week when it releases its second- quarter earnings report.

"We're dealing with two public corporations that aren't going to tell us anything, because they can't," he says.

Clouds of uncertainty have lingered over Essex Junction for more than a decade, as the company has retrenched and its Vermont workforce dwindled from a 2001 peak of 8,500. But never have the skies above the industrial park looked so dark.Ibm-logo

As IBM repositions itself as a services-oriented company focused on cloud computing, it has jettisoned less profitable hardware operations. In January, it struck a deal to sell off its low-end server business to China-based Lenovo for $2.3 billion.

Though GlobalFoundries specializes in the very chip-manufacturing work conducted at the Essex Junction plant, reports in the financial press have indicated that the company is interested in IBM's patents and engineers — not its aging facilities.