ST. CLOUD — An eyesore in the heart of downtown is slated to be razed more than two years after a fire left the structure unsafe and charred.
The city's Economic Development Authority unanimously approved Tuesday an agreement allowing the owners of the former Cowboy Jack's to apply for tax-increment financing to cover costs of demolition — slated for this summer — and eventual reconstruction.
Cowboy Jack's has been closed since February 2020, when the neighboring Press Bar burned down. In May, Press Bar owner Andrew Welsh pleaded guilty in federal court to setting fire to his building and trying to collect more than $1.4 million in insurance.
The two historic buildings Cowboy Jack's inhabited — 506 and 510 W. St. Germain St., which date to 1907 and 1910, respectively — were damaged by water and smoke. An application submitted to the city's Heritage Preservation Commission by Anne Loff of Minneapolis-based Midnight Real Estate, which owns the building and operates the restaurant, estimates demolition and site preparation costs at nearly $156,000.
Midnight Real Estate owns and operates multiple bars and restaurants in the state and the upper Midwest, including several Cowboy Jack's establishments. Loff did not respond to a request for comment on redevelopment plans.
Cathy Mehelich, economic development director in St. Cloud, said Midnight Real Estate has also acquired the former Press Bar site, which has been fenced off for two years since the building was razed. In July 2020, St. Cloud City Council approved a resolution for the city to clean up the property. In September, Midnight Real Estate purchased the site for $330,000 plus an additional $117,000 in delinquent special assessments and taxes.
Mehelich said Midnight Real Estate is working with the city's Community Development Department to learn what is allowed in the preservation area.
"They are still working on their final plans at this time," Mehelich said. "[They] anticipate having something to review by early fall."