Save Uncle Hugo’s: September Update

Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s as they looked before the fire.

Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores, which were burned by vandals on May 30 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis, has sent another update to his subscribers.

Blyly says he has succeeded in getting the city to issue a demolition permit. The water bill he had to pay as a prerequisite is still a source of confusion.

The city water bills continue to arrive and not make sense.  The demolition contractor said that the water bill needed to be paid in full, whether it made sense or not, before a demolition permit will be issued, and he sent me a copy of the latest water bill.  I authorized him to pay the water bill and add it to his bill to me.  The demolition permit was finally issued, and about ten days after he paid the latest water bill from the city, a new water bill arrived in the mail at my home for a different amount than what the demolition contractor had paid, and the new bill did not show the payment made by the demolition contractor.

Don Blyly

The demolition work has been agreed. Blyly has received an estimate to rebuild in line with the probable insurance payout.

…Nine days ago I met with the architect, the general contractor, and the demolition contractor at the ruins so that we would all be in agreement about what should be removed and what should be left behind.  At that point I was given a very general estimate that the cost of the rebuild would be about $400,000 more than the figure the insurance company had come up with, and I told them that would be too much.    They worked for another week and came up with another estimate that was almost exactly the same as what the insurance company had estimated.  But I have a bunch of questions about their proposal which we will have to discuss next week. The demolition contractor will start removing debris in a few days.

Blyly has also looked over other commercial properties – none have sparked his enthusiasm.

I’ve looked at a few commercial properties that are for sale, both in Minneapolis and first ring surrounding locations, but haven’t yet seen anything I’m very excited about.  I expect prices will go down as more businesses fail because of covid-19.    A lot of companies will also be reducing the amount of space they need as “work-from-home” becomes standard procedure instead of an emergency coping procedure.  A lot of other companies are looking to leave Minneapolis out of fear of more looting and rioting in the future, especially around the time of the trial of the four cops involved in the death of George Floyd.    I have to admit that I’m not interested in opening up  in time to be burnt out a second time, so I’m inclined to wait a bit before deciding what to do next.

To date the GoFundMe started to Help Save Uncle Hugo’s has raised $171,734 of the $500,000 goal amount.

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4 thoughts on “Save Uncle Hugo’s: September Update

  1. Such a pity these “vandals” tainted the protests by holding their “looting and rioting” at the same time.

  2. So, stuck in a kind of limbo, but not the good kind of limbo.

    We perforce have to take economics seriously in our society, but stories like this where there’s difficulty with the estimation and processing of a utility bill give me pause. And that’s not to mention the construction estimations…I don’t know. I am not currently inclined to start a brick and mortar business. Maybe I’m being cynical, but “dismal science” is being unkind to the word dismal.

  3. I suspect there isn’t a lot of water being “used”, or the basement would, by now, be full. And I expect the water department to be able to shut off water from outside the building, even if they have to dig a hole in the street.

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