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Century Square plans unveiled

Strip mall to be built near Viola Road and East Circle Drive

By Bob Freund

freund@postbulletin.com

For the past couple of years, the land near the northwest corner of Viola Road and East Circle Drive has been a work with little apparent progress to passersby.

Today, developer Ken Dewan and his investment group unveil plans for Century Square, a neighborhood business center.

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The initial tenant will be the second Leo's Pizza Palace in Rochester. But "I'm close to signing some deals with some other services," including at least one casual restaurant, Nathan Hartung, real estate agent and project manager, said this week.

The real estate group, called Vidya Investment Properties L.L.C. of Rochester, owns all but one of the available lots in the area between Viola Road and 26th Street Northeast, which is the entrance drive. Dewan is the majority investor in the group, with others from central Minnesota and Chicago.

The group made a door-to-door survey of residents in the Century Hills subdivision and found demand for a strip-style service complex, Hartung said. Except for a Kwik Trip convenience store, there is no commercial development for a mile or more in any direction. The Kwik Trip's traffic shows it at busy times, such as at noon. "You can simply see the demand" by being in the store, Hartung said.

Residents were most interested in a full-service bank branch, with safe deposit boxes; a hair salon and spa; a coffee shop; a dry-cleaning store; and a video rental store, said Dewan.

Traffic is increasing at the two intersecting roads as nearby Century Hills expands. East Circle Drive, which is along the east border of the commercial land, carries 13,500 vehicles per day, and Viola Road, as many as 9,500 vehicles.

Proximity to Century High School was one force behind the development. Dewan said the name "Vidya" is Hindu for "education." Other schools nearby are Rochester Community and Technical College and Schaeffer Academy.

The project, which will cost into the millions of dollars for land and buildings, will develop in stages. The first phase, which will get under way immediately, is scheduled for completion early in September. The second, which is next door, could be done by the end of the year. Others are likely to fill next year, Hartung said.

This morning's groundbreaking was to include Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede and other dignitaries. The contractor for the project is Raske Building Systems from Cosmos, Minn.

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