An autism treatment center has locked down a permanent home in northwest Rochester.

Caravel Autism Health, which has 10 locations in Wisconsin and Illinois, opened its first Minnesota office in Rochester last spring.

Now it's starting construction work for a permanent treatment center in a 6,200-square-feet portion of the former Rochester Plumbers and Fitters Building Corp. complex at 1470 Industrial Dr. NW. There is room for another tenant or tenants in the 11.000-square-foot building.

Since starting to offer autism treatment for children ages 18-months-old to 18-years-old in Rochester, Caravel has been sharing space with the RT Autism Awareness Foundation at 329 Elton Hills Dr. NW.

"We hope to be able to be in there by the end of September or early October," said Caravel's Vice President of Minnesota Clinical Operations Jackie Vick.

If things go according to plan, a grand opening of the Industrial Drive location is expected to happen by late October.

Caravel has a team of six on staff and is still growing, Vick said.

The Med City location is the first of what Caravel plans will be several in Minnesota. A Mankato center is expected to open this fall and more are slated to come online in the Twin Cities in 2020.

Why start the move into the Minnesota market in Rochester?

"We decided to open in Rochester because I became aware of pretty significant wait times for autism treatment here," Vick said.

The Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 6 union moved out of the Industrial Drive facility in 2017 into a new complex at 3111 19th St. NW. 

In January, the 35-year-old Industrial Dr. NW center was purchased by Roch MN Investments for $749,000.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger. You can call him at 285-7798.

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