James Eli Shiffer, the Star Tribune’s watchdog and data editor, digs into data and documents to uncover the news. Reach him at 612-673-4116, james.shiffer@startribune.com or follow him on Twitter at @jameselishiffer. Tell us what to investigate. Send your story tips to whistleblower@startribune.com.

Winning bid for the old Minneapolis church: $105K

Posted by: James Eli Shiffer Updated: May 2, 2014 - 2:45 PM

By the time I arrived at Friday's auction of tax-forfeited properties in Hennepin County, the 117-year-old abandoned church in Elliot Park that I wrote about yesterday had already been sold to bidder 106. I found him, by his number, waiting to sign the paperwork for his $105,000 winning bid. Arafat Elbakri has restored old Minneapolis buildings before. He told me he has driven past the church many times over the years, and he felt the hand of God guiding him to this moment.

So what will Elbakri do with it? Maybe a coffee shop or some other kind of retail space. "We're just excited about the space," he said. Not a very good business plan, he admitted, but he's confident he can turn the church from an eyesore to a neighborhood asset again.

I know I'm not alone in hoping he succeeds. 

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