The City of St. Michael is peeling into a piece of history.
In its demolition of two abandoned downtown buildings that began today, crews took down the outer layer of brick from one building, revealing the original, historic brick still underneath.
The sight of the contrast on the two-story building drew many people from nearby businesses peeking out of their windows and doors Wednesday afternoon to watch the demolition.
The buildings, located at 105 and 109 Central Ave. E, have been abandoned for approximately the past four to five years, according to the city's Community Development Director Marc Weigle.
The city's Economic Development Authority proposed the demolition to the St. Michael City Council, and the council unanimously approved the plan in a late-October meeting.
"We had a number of (potential buyers) look at it, but given the condition of the buildings and the cost of what it takes to bring them up to code, nobody could make it work," he said. "So we looked at it as a redevelopment opportunity to go in and clean it up, and eventually redevelop it into a higher and better use."
The smaller building used to be an office for a contractor, and the two-story building was used by a real estate business, he said. The buildings were both foreclosed and the city purchased them from the bank in August, Weigle said.
"They were becoming blighted," he said. "(The buildings) were used for graffiti — an eyesore."
The city's economic development authority is planning to market the plots of land jointly with the former site of Simonson Lumber Yard, that was lost to a fire in January.
"At this point, we're just cleaning the site (of the two buildings) up and intend to market the site along with property adjacent to it where the lumber yard used to be," Weigle said. "We put some signs out there, and we'll be working on the next steps to continue marketing."
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