Lisa Loucks-Christenson Award-winning Author and Illustrator of "Don't Eat Bees!"

Hotel Indigo opens in former Holiday Inn building; Carvana rolls into Rochester; & more
JAN 22

Hotel Indigo opens in former Holiday Inn building; Carvana rolls into Rochester; & more

A new hotel is now open inside the former Holiday Inn building.

The transformation of the 51-year-old structure, 220 South Broadway, into a Hotel Indigo is the result of an 18-month renovation project that brought significant changes to both the interior and exterior of the building.

The makeover included a modernized facade, along with refurbished rooms, a new fitness center, atrium lounge, and ballroom. The hotel now also features an examination room that will allow medical staff to provide preliminary exams to guests without having to leave the building.

The project, estimated at $41.5 million, was led by EKN Development Group. The California-based company is also working on two other hotel projects in Rochester, including the now-under-construction Hyatt House extended stay hotel on the corner of First Avenue and Civic Center Drive.

The grand opening for Hotel Indigo is scheduled for April. That is when construction is scheduled to be done on the hotel’s 9,500-square-foot Crave sushi restaurant. The concept will feature a retractable glass roof.

Rendering of the Crave American Restaurant & Sushi Bar / EKN Development Group

UMR ADDS STUDENT HOUSING

Students at the University of Minnesota Rochester will have another housing option come this fall.

The university says it plans to house about 40 students at the recently-built Residence at Discovery Square, 511 Third Avenue Southwest.

The apartment complex is positioned in close proximity to One Discovery Square, where UMR recently added classroom and lab space.

“The housing of students in the Residence at Discovery Square continues UMR's commitment to maintaining its presence in downtown Rochester,” said John Hachtel, the university’s communications director.

According to Kimberly Foss, the building’s community manager, only one floor of the building will be reserved for student housing. The remainder of the 134-unit complex will be available for general leasing.

As of now, the building is 19 percent occupied. Leasing began in September.

In addition to residential units, there is also an entire first floor available for commercial use. Foss stated it has not been determined how the space will be divided up. That will depend, she said, on how the market plays out.

The Residence at Discovery Square building is one of several new upscale apartment complexes in the downtown area. Studios are going for $1,100; one-bedrooms for $1,500; and two-bedrooms start at $2,100.

In related news Hachtel said UMR is now in the process of reviewing proposals from six developers for its expansion toward the south end of downtown. A decision is due in February. The proposed development, being pitched as a collaboration with the YMCA, calls for the construction of new student housing, along with academic and recreational space.

KEMPS TO CEASE MILK PRODUCTION

This week, Kemps announced it will be closing down its milk processing plant in Rochester, effective June 30.

The decision will result in the elimination of 125 jobs.

Kemps said Tuesday it will work with the state Department of Employment and Economic Development to help employees through the transition.

“Business decisions that impact people’s lives are difficult,” said Greg Kurr, president and CEO of St. Paul-based Kemps. “In evaluating our options, it became apparent ceasing operations is the best long-term strategy for our business. The employees at this facility have done an excellent job, and we greatly appreciate their hard work and dedication.”

Kemps had operated out of the Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) facility at 700 First Avenue Southeast for more than 60 years. AMPI ceased production at the site at the end of 2019 — affecting 75 workers — while also announcing plans to put the 3.3 acre property up for sale.

The announcement from Kemps does not affect Rochester employees at its ice cream facility located on North Broadway.

ONLINE CAR RETAILER ROLLS INTO TOWN

Carvana, an online car retailer with an inventory of more than 15,000 vehicles, launched service in Rochester on Wednesday.

The company allows customers to browse cars online and then have the vehicle delivered to them within a day or two. Once its arrives, customers have up to a week to decide whether they want to keep or return the car.

With the addition of Rochester, Carvana now operates in 151 U.S. markets, making it the fast-growing auto retailer in the country.

Photo courtesy Carvana

LOCALLY-OWNED BOOKSTORE OPENS

Finally, Rochester readers now have another place to check out while searching for new and used books.

Local author and photographer Lisa Loucks Christenson recently opened Silver Lake Books in the Silver Lake Center plaza, 1518 North Broadway.

This is Christenson’s second bookstore in Rochester. She also owns Peacock Books & Wildlife Art located inside the Kahler Grand Hotel.

Both bookstores offer an array of titles, including some from local authors.

The addition of another Med City bookstore comes amid a resurgence in the book-selling industry nationwide. Since hitting a low point in 2009, the number of independent booksellers has grown by about 35 percent.

There are now approximately 2,5000 independently-owned bookstores, including a couple of other gems here in Rochester: the Friends’ Book Store in the library and Collective Books and Records at the Castle.

Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.

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