As the City of St. Michael
continues to grow, one of the casualties of that growth was discussed by the
Wright County Board of Commissioners this week.
The county board 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 CSAH 19 by 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 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 CSAH 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
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.