Just days before the one-year anniversary of its looting and torching during the riots following the murder of George Floyd, the former Big Top Liquors store at 1544 University Ave. has been ordered demolished. The Saint Paul City Council voted on May 12 to give Snelling Midway Redevelopment LLC 45 days to remove the blackened hulk of the one-story structure.

RK Midway LLC owns the Midway Center property where Big Top is located, but it has granted a master lease to Minnesota United lead owner Bill McGuire and his group Snelling Midway Redevelopment LLC.

Big Top Liquors
Firefighters worked to douse the blaze that all but destroyed Big Top Liquors on May 28-29, 2020. Photo by Brad Stauffer

The latter company has been working with Mortenson Construction in seeking demolition bids and hopes to demolish Big Top by the end of May.

Big Top has been a Midway Center tenant for many years at two different locations. Its owners recently obtained City Council approval to transfer the business’ off-sale liquor license to an as yet undetermined location.

The former liquor store and a second Midway Center building that housed several businesses were fenced off last June after both were extensively damaged by arson. Most other Midway structures extensively damaged in the rioting have been demolished or rehabilitated. It is not clear when the larger Midway Center building will come down.

A Saint Paul Fire Department report from last May indicated that looters were still in the Big Top building when it was on fire. Firefighters attempted to enter the burning building, but when people began throwing objects at them, they pulled back until everyone was out.

A Saint Paul Fire Department report from last May indicated that looters were still in the Big Top building when it was on fire. Firefighters attempted to enter the burning building, but when people began throwing objects at them, they pulled back until everyone was out.

 

house ad

 

The city issued an emergency summary abatement order for the structure in June 2020. A contractor fenced off the building, removed loose materials and cleaned up other items. Since then, three summary abatement orders have been issued for graffiti cleanup. Four work orders were issued to board and secure the property. An inspection in November found the building to be a nuisance. An order to abate a nuisance building was posted on January 27 with a compliance date of February 26, but the building remained in place.

Attorney Bruce Parker, who represented McGuire at an April 13 hearing, told legislative hearing officer Marcia Moermond that his client’s intent is to demolish the structure as soon as possible.

— Jane McClure

COMMENTS TERMS OF SERVICE

The Villager welcomes comments from readers. Please include your full name and the neighborhood in which you live. Be respectful of others and stay on topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment we deem to be profane, rude, insulting or hateful. Comments will be reviewed before being published.

Leave a Reply