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Wanna Buy?—Notebook Dump Edition!

Let's look at a seemingly/spookily abandoned south Minneapolis home, a St. Paul firehouse conversation with a dark backstory, a curious mid-century St. Croix estate, and an iconic St. Paul hangout in which Fitzgerald famously got wasted.

All photos from public property listings|

Not a great crop on that firepole pic on the right. What are ya gonna do?

I've agonized out loud about my own complicity in the House-Peeping Industrial Complex. At worst, gaudy real-estate reporting normalizes the ill-gotten property hoarding of the ultra-wealthy and, at best... it entertains the masses while goosing a shitload of clicks out of 'em?

To hang onto a sliver of my slippery J-school self-righteousness, I like to at least source out the installments of our popular Wanna Buy? series with interviews, though sometimes listing agents aren't interested and/or available. Rather than let you looky-loos go looky-less, I'm dumping out the old notebook with four such recent examples, all of which I found to be "neat" in various respects.

May what they lack in reportage be made up for by the ample gawking opportunities they provide!

5003 2nd Ave. S., Minneapolis

Few online clues exist about this hauntingly beautiful four-bedroom, two-bathroom, 3,824-square-foot home. The current owners appear to live way up in Nisswa, and county records don't show when they purchased the place. It's obviously in real rough shape, as if left to decay for decades, but that didn't stop a buyer from snapping it up almost instantly. (Listed at $349,900, the the 97-year-old house received a pending offer within a week after hitting the market.)

Honestly, the description language does a killer job at stirring the imagination of century-home freaks such as myself...

Discover a rare opportunity in the heart of south Minneapolis's prestigious neighborhood. This distressed house, nestled within a sought-after locale, offers immense potential for restoration and revitalization. With its prime location and charming architectural features, this property presents an exciting prospect for those seeking to breathe new life into a once-stunning home. Don't miss out on the chance to transform this diamond in the rough into a gem of the neighborhood. Embrace the challenge and unlock the vast potential awaiting within these walls.

The furnace and electrical are mercifully updated, we learn, though the crumbling addition in back will require a substantial rebuild. (My drive by this past weekend confirmed as much, even to my non-tradesman eye.) In any case, what a fun adventure for whoever scooped up this considerable rehab project.

1720 7th St. E., St. Paul

OK, buckle up: This one is dark for reasons I learned about after the listing agent declined to talk. In 2014, St. Paul man Brian Kjellberg made headlines when he purchased the vacant No. 24 firehouse on St. Paul's East Side for $75,000 from the city. “It’s rare; it’s unusual,” city real estate manager Bruce Engelbrekt said of the sale, which saw St. Paul depart with a 1918 fire station that hadn't been in use since 1970. Kjellberg would make headlines again in 2021, this time for fatally stabbing a Black man who had parked on his property at East Seventh & Flandrau; Kjellberg, who was convicted of second-degree murder last year but avoided prison time, allegedly said a racial slur before killing 27-year-old AJ Stewart with a steel pipe. The converted firehouse hit the market last fall for $550,000.

1105 N. Hamilton St., Saint Croix Falls

Alright, this one is technically located just across the St. Croix River in Wisconsin. And man... I truly love it. Designed by architect Arthur Svendsen in 1965, the $399,000 mid-century stunner overlooks a federally protected waterway from a woodsy settling located less than an hour from St. Paul. I want to live here, though even a recent $20,000 price cut wasn't enough to convince my wife. The property has an intriguing history, too: It was once paired via bridge to a sister house, which you can apparently still see vividly through the floor-to-ceiling living room windows. It seems the homes were purchased as a bargain combo last summer for $375,000, and the lucky buyer must've split the lot in order to sell 1105 N. Hamilton St. while keeping 1109 N. Hamilton. Does the bridge remain? We couldn't get the listing agent on the phone to ask. In another quirk: "This property is part of the Rockpile Neighborhood and each house owns 10% of Rockpile Commons which includes a pond with fountain and surrounding 1.58 acres," according to the listing.

79 Western Ave. N., St. Paul

Wanna run the Cathedral Hill booze joint that was once the Commodore Hotel, where whistles belonging to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Al Capone, and Sinclair Lewis were once wetted? Gorgeously restored in 2015, the 12,645-square-foot art deco marvel from 1920 is now known as The Commodore Bar & Restaurant, and it can be yours for $2.75 million. Wrote the Star Tribune upon its reopening:

Entering the renovated Commodore feels like stepping onto a movie set where guests can rove from scene to scene, opting for a traditional white tablecloth dinner or a more intimate corner love seat with cocktails. The space emanates decadence with checkerboard floors, twinkling chandeliers, ornate ceiling trim and white leather furniture.

But it's worth knowing that The Commodore's longtime owner, John Rupp, has battled with the city for years over operating the west dining room as a restaurant; he was fined and ordered to close it in 2020, the PiPress reports. We encourage any loaded Viraluae readers/investors with soft spots for the Jazz Age to do their homework before making offers!

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