St. Paul has landed a retail tenant for its Lowertown apartment complex that has a distinctly East Side flavor.
The city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which consists of the City Council, is expected to approve Wednesday a restaurant/bar lease at the Lofts at Farmers Market for the owners of the Strip Club, the popular steak and fish house that has made the corner of E. 6th and Maria a dining destination for the last five years.
“I’m tickled,” said City Council Member Dave Thune, who represents downtown. “I’ve eaten there a number of times and it’s great food and they’re great people and they’ll be a great addition to Lowertown. It underscores the value of our investment in the property and in Lowertown.”
Tenants are listed as Tim Niver and J.D. Fratzke, respectively the general manager and chef at the Strip Club, which will remain at its current site.
They declined to comment Monday on their plans, but Niver has been quoted as saying he had lots of ideas for more restaurants.
“It will be something unique to Lowertown,” said Summit Real Estate broker Rob Clapp, who is representing the HRA in the deal.
The Strip Club has won popular and critical acclaim for its steaks, especially the New York strip — the namesake of the establishment — as well as its retro cocktails and weekend brunch. Niver and his partners also opened the Inn in downtown Minneapolis in 2010 but were forced to close it a few months later for lack of business, which hasn’t been a problem on the East Side.
The St. Paul HRA took over the Lofts at Farmers Market project in 2010 after construction there stalled over legal issues. The project cost $13.2 million, including $8 million in federal stimulus bonds and at least $3 million in city funding, and was finished last year.
The HRA will give the tenants a $170,000 allowance to finish the vacant space and bring the restaurant up to code. The tenants will pay the city monthly rent of $2,192 and an estimated $7,400 in property taxes annually.
The lease, which will begin in November if not before, will include two renewal options for five years each.
There won’t be specific parking for the restaurant, a focus of concern in Lowertown where many residents and businesses fear a dramatic parking crunch when the Saints’ ballpark opens in 2015.
Not everyone was thrilled last week by a temporary parking solution offered by the city to MarketHouse residents who lost their parking to demolition on the ballpark site.
“We’ll continue to work with them,” Thune said. As for the area of the new restaurant, he said “in that general vicinity we’re well suited for parking.”
The Lofts complex itself has 58 units of rental housing and 56 underground parking stalls.
Thune chuckled. “I got started in politics getting rid of strip clubs,” he said, “and now here I am welcoming one into the neighborhood.”