by Joni Astrup
An Elk River apartment building that was heavily damaged by a December fire is being razed to make way for a new building.
Demolition of the building at 365 Evans Ave. in the Evans Meadows apartment complex began Monday. The building was built in 1989 and is owned by Bigos Management in Golden Valley.
Larry Klein, Evans Meadows property manager, has been part of Evans Meadows from the start and was there as the building was reduced to rubble.
“We never had an incident here in all these years and then to have this happen, it’s just sad,” he said as he watched the demolition unfold. “Helped build it, helped tear it down. A lot of years here.”
Watching with him were Emily Korhonen, caretaker at the complex, and Robert Redding, Evans Meadows maintenance technician.
“I had tears this morning. It’s a sad thing,” Korhonen said.
A fire had swept through the 16-unit building on Dec. 5. The tenants all got out unharmed and have relocated to new homes. Most still live in apartments within the Evans Meadows complex, Klein said. Several moved to another Bigos Management property in Rogers. Others had purchased homes.
“I’ve talked to each and every one of them. They’re all doing well. Everybody is settled in and started a new life, pretty much,” Klein said.
The tenants weren’t able to go back into the building to gather belongings because the structure was deemed unsafe, he said. However, they were asked to provide a list of items they would like from their apartments and a crew was hired to enter as many of the apartments as possible to retrieve what they could.
Klein said furniture and electronics were too badly damaged to salvage but family mementoes like photos were rescued.
Meanwhile, plans are already in place for a new building to rise from the ashes of the old.
Klein said once the site is cleared it will be enclosed and heated so construction can begin on the new building. The goal is to have it ready for tenants in September or October.
The new building will look just like the old one on the outside, he said. Inside, there will be some updates like elevators that weren’t in the old building.