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Gluek saloon fights the odds in Cedar Riverside

Posted by: Steve Brandt under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government, Urban living Updated: September 11, 2013 - 3:18 PM

A former Gluek saloon in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood isn’t going down easy.

The city’s Heritage Preservation Commission said no once again on Tuesday in the year-old saga of whether a housing developer can raze the onetime saloon building that sits on part of its site.

The 5-4 vote by commissioners opens the door to a likely appeal by developer Fine Associates, which wants to clear the 1903 two-story brick building. Fine wants to build 259 apartments in a six story complex with parking that it calls Five15 on the Park.

The commission vote came despite a staff recommendation that the developer had exhausted feasible options for moving the former saloon at 1500 6th St. S.  A neighboring developer denied a request by Fine to use its nearby site temporarily to move the building to another site Fine owns at 1527 S. 6th St. Moves to other locations in the area were too expensive for moving the structure alone, let alone rehab, Fine’s Bob Kueppers told the commission.

Commissioners who bucked the recommendation said they feel the building, now stripped of its saloon décor, is still an important historic resource, and one of few remaining vintage buildings in the area.

Opponents note that a number of the 86 saloons in Minneapolis known as "tied houses" that Gluek built to peddle its suds exclusively still remain, including some not far away in the same neighborhood.    

Fine was pressing the city a year ago to let it demolish the building because it was in a hurry to start construction.  But a commission staff report said a developer pro forma shows the development proposal still has a $4.9 million financial gap.

An application to demolish the building was submitted in August, 2012, and the commission denied the request last November.  The City Council overrode that on appeal, but said the building had to be moved down the street. Fine renewed its demolition request in August, arguing that there were no feasible alternatives to demolition.  It doesn’t want to leave the building in a corner of the proposed development because that would reduce the number of apartments built, and clash with the project’s design, Kueppers said.

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