More than a year after a fire destroyed an apartment building in north Minneapolis, the structure has yet to be torn down.

"It has become a dangerous pile of debris," said Bill O'Reilly, who lives two blocks from the site. "There's nothing more unsafe than a burned-out building, and I'm afraid some kids would break in and get hurt because the top level of the building collapsed into the middle."

O'Reilly sought answers from Curious Minnesota, the Star Tribune's reader-driven reporting project. This is the first installment of A Little Curious, an occasional series based on more specific reader questions than those addressed in the main column.

O'Reilly wanted to know why the building's hazardous condition hasn't been addressed. He has inquired with city officials, but "the conversations got intertwined and got really confusing."

A fence now surrounds the building, which is part of a public-private development on the north edge of downtown Minneapolis. Built in the early 2000s, the Heritage Park complex stretches over several city blocks and features both apartments and townhouses.

The complicated development of the building appears to be one reason it hasn't been repaired. The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) owns the land and a St. Louis-based private developer owns and manages the building.

But there is good news. The building is expected to be demolished and replaced by early 2023. Here is what we know:

A fire broke out at the 700 block of Olson Memorial Highway in March 2021, destroying the second and third floors as well as the roof of the three-story building. No one was hurt, though some families lost everything, according to the Heritage Park Neighborhood Association.

The Minneapolis Fire Department classified the cause as "undetermined" because investigators could not access the second-floor balcony where the fire originated. The balcony was unstable and not safe to conduct a complete examination, fire officials said.

Late last year, city inspector Joe Jarvis cited the Housing Authority for not registering the vacant property at 652 Bryant Av. N. The city requires owners to register vacant properties and pay an annual fee. And in some instances, the city can intervene and demolish buildings.

Jennifer Keogh, deputy executive director for the Housing Authority, directed all questions to the developer, McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS). She said that "if this violation was sent to MPHA, it would have been forwarded onto MBS as it is the obligation of the property owner to comply with city regulations."

Demolition plans

MBS spokeswoman Connie Raney said the developer expects to demolish and rebuild the fire-damaged building by the first quarter of 2023. But before any of that work happens, it must first undergo a "risk management and engineering and procurement" assessment, she said.

MBS is required to get three bids before selecting a contractor to take on the task and get a cost estimate. So far, two have submitted demolition proposals. MBS has not abandoned the building and is waiting for the final proposal to come in, Raney said.

She also said MBS has not engaged tenants and the neighborhood association about the rebuilding plans because the building will be rebuilt to appear "like nothing ever happened."