Rochester Man Honored with President's Award

September 08, 2017 07:12 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - Long time Rochester developer Gus Chafoulias turns 82 years old this month.. but he's not done shaping the future of Rochester.

Gus was given the president's award at yesterday's chamber of Commmerce economic summit.
The award was a way to honor all his achievements, but some may not realize just how influential he's been to Rochester and the surrounding area.


Gus Chafolias is a living legend in Rochester's business community. He graduated from Rochester High School, which is now John Marshall, in 1953. After 2 years of college, he went to work for his father… whom he credits for his success.  

"He had a little restaurant and the restaurant was doing real well and the landlord said one day, you have to pay me more rent. He was paying $25 a month and the landlord said he wanted $300," says Gus. "So that was 12 times. " "The reason I went into real estate is he told me… never go… go into real estate and own your own stuff because then no one can take it away from you. So… and don't pay rent to anybody." 

He took that advice to heart. 

"In the meantime, he had bought 2 or 3 buildings on Broadway and some other buildings around town and so I learned to do that myself. And his famous words were, "I built the first floor, you have to build the 2nd floor," says Gus. "And so my first building was Park Towers and it was 16 floors. My dad had died before that and I was thinking I wish my dad was still alive. I would have told him, I didn't stop at two, I kept it going to 16." 

At one point a few years ago, Gus counted 98 different pieces of property and businesses that he owned. As much as 80% of them in the Rochester area. The list includes all the Andy's Liquor stories, Central Towers. the Chateau Theater, the Doubletree by Hilton, Fontaine Towers, the Hilton Garden Inn and the U.S. Bank building. He also introduced the skyway system to Rochester and built nearly all of the skyways in the city today. 

"Yeah, I've known him a long time," says Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede. "Those projects that he's done, those are multi-million dollar projects.  

"And he was at one time the only person that had any interest in doing development," says Former Rochester City Adminstrator Stevan Kvenvold."No with DMC there are more people who want to get in on the action, but for a long time he was the only one who was interested in doing any development in the downtown area." 

"I think that Gus has been tremendously important to the growth of the community. Not only because of his wisdom and his business acumen but more importantly Gus cares deeply about the community," says former Rochester Chamber of Commerce President, John Wade. 

"And he always wanted to do something for the town. Not just for himself. He also wants to leave something for the town which is important," says Kvenvold. 

"Our community would not look the way it does today if not for Gus Chafoulias," says Wade. 

"So we're very luck to have them," says Mayor Brede. 

"An attorney once told me the way you make money is tied to your anatomy. It's your head, your neck and your butt. If you use your head stick your neck out and work your butt off and you'll be successful," says Gus. 

And there's no sign Gus is slowing down. Today he continues to shape Rochester's downtown. His latest project is this 264 room Hilton Hotel going up next to Broadway Suites.

"I'll be 82 in September," says Gus. You ever think about retiremen?. "No." Why not? "I have to have something to do. I tried out for the Vikings. They didn't want me. I can't play baseball or basketball so I'm down to one thing, work. That's all that's left. But I love it." 


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