Ten years ago, St. Paul's Hot Rod's Bar & Grill likely wouldn't have stirred great interest from investors.
That changed in 2014, when Metro Transit laid tracks for the Green Line light-rail train just outside of its University Avenue doors. Then, in early 2016, construction began on Allianz Field, the $200 million MLS soccer stadium located a block away.
Suddenly, the 50-year-old University Avenue dive seems potential-packed, which might explain why it hit the market earlier this month. Asking price? $1.5 million.
Included in the sale of 1553 University Ave.: the 10,300-square-foot building sitting on a .14-acre lot, plus all of the barroom furniture, fixtures, and equipment. Built in 1922, the structure was remodeled for around $600,000 in 2010, according to the property listing, with new roofing, stucco, floors, bathrooms, and HVAC system. The upper level is currently framed and big enough facilitate a two-bedroom apartment. Bonus: The rooftop billboard contract is included, netting the owner $4,500 per year.
Last year, after St. Paul cops dinged Hot Rod's with multiple liquor violations, owner Dean Bigaouette expressed his frustration to KARE 11. Bigaouette, along with Dave Imsdahl, owner of the nearby Trend Bar, felt the city was targeting neighborhood staples as the area became more upscale.
"After 50 years, we've kept changing with the neighborhood and we hope to keep changing with the neighborhood," Bigaouette said. "I'd like to be a part of the redevelopment of the area. We've paid our dues. We've been here long enough. We should prosper with the rest of them. Let the little guy have a little something."
Comedian Josh Blue didn't exactly prosper when he visited Hot Rod's last year; the nationally touring St. Paul native was assaulted and robbed there after performing a hometown gig.
We placed multiple calls to Hot Rod's for comment about the sale, but no one picked up; Google lists the establishment as "permanently closed." We also reached out to the listing agent, but never heard back.
So, let's just take a photo tour of Hot Rod's, courtesy of RE/MAX Results:
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