Courtesy of Wright County Communications
One of the city of St. Michael’s longest sagas – what to do with the Corner Bar – is coming to a close. The bar will be torn down before summer’s end.
The Wright County Board of Commissioners approved a contract for the demolition of The Corner Bar, a landmark business in St. Michael for more than 120 years. In December 2019, the county and the owners of The Corner Bar reached an agreement for the sale and demolition of the building to make improvements to Wright County Highway 19 (named LaBeaux Avenue Northeast through STMA), adding a lane of traffic in both directions as well as turn lanes.
“We’re improving Highway 19 between the one-way pairs in St. Michael,” Wright County Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins said. “The segment of Highway 19 between those two one-way pair streets needed to be widened, upgraded and expanded. That acquisition [of the Corner Bar] was necessary to make that improvement.”
What made the bidding process so unusual was the disparity in the bids to demolish the structure. The project had an engineer’s estimate of $65,000 for the demolition and removal of the building. Five bids were received for the project and the low bid from Fehn Companies of Albertville was $29,983. Not only was the bid 54 percent below the estimate, it also dwarfed in comparison to other four bids received – $52,800, $64,900, $71,560 and $87,395.
County Board Chair Christine Husom said the bids were as different as she has seen in bid processes that come before the county board,
“I was rather surprised by the large range,” Husom said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that wide of a range before. It seemed pretty dramatic.”
Hawkins said he even had to double-check the bid paperwork and contact the company to make sure there was nothing missing from the bid package.
“The low bid was very low,” Hawkins said. “We got five bids on the project and four of them were relatively close to what we had as the estimated cost. Because of the difference, we had some concerns about the scope of their bid. But, we called the low bidder and they satisfied our questions. We were happy to see that bid.”
Hawkins said his office will be meeting with Fehn Companies Friday, July 24, to discuss the needed permits. Demolition is expected to start within the next couple of weeks and should be completed within a few days. Construction on Highway 19 is expected to be on the 2022 construction schedule.
The demolition will mark the end of a local institution in St. Michael. The Corner Bar had a multi-generational history as being a meeting place for residents of the city and those who had moved away and came back to visits friends and family over the holiday season. The business had multiple owners over its 120-year history and survived Prohibition and several economic downturns because of a loyal local clientele.
As part of the demolition, the construction marker stone from 1897 at the base of the building will be preserved and presented to the City of St. Michael.