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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Light rail pushes Porky’s owners to seek sale

Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.


Anonymous Finance & Commerce said...

Posted: 3:45 pm Mon, March 28, 2011

By Burl Gilyard

For nearly six decades, Porky’s restaurant on University Avenue in St. Paul has been known as a summertime hangout for classic car buffs. But down the line, the family that owns Porky’s doesn’t see a good fit with light rail trains rolling along University Avenue.

“Because of the light rail we decided that it was a good time to get out of there,” said Nora Truelson, whose family owns Porky’s. “I don’t think that’s going to be good for the avenue. They’re taking all the parking away. I think everyone’s going to be suffering over there.”

Construction has begun for the 11-mile Central Corridor light rail transit line, which will connect the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis when it opens in 2014. Many small business owners along University Avenue have been critical of the anticipated impact on their businesses during light rail construction.

In 1953, Ray Truelson opened Porky’s at 1890 University Ave. W. in St. Paul. His future bride, Nora, began working there a few years later. (Ray Truelson is now deceased.)

The Truelson family is in talks with St. Paul-based Episcopal Homes of Minnesota, which operates a 280-unit senior housing campus and has its headquarters next door to the restaurant. At this point, no purchase agreement has been signed.

“It’s just kind of in the works right now,” Nora Truelson said Monday.

The deal has been taking shape since last summer.

“We’ve been talking off and on for nine months,” said Marvin Plakut, president and chief executive officer of Episcopal Homes. “We were approached first back in July of last year. That was their notice to us that they were interested in selling. We’ve been talking ever since.”

Episcopal Homes, which traces its history to 1894, has been at the corner of University and Fairview avenues since the 1920s.

“Anytime there’s construction in an area, it hurts traffic; it hurts business. That’s life. Short term it’s a problem; long term it’s a plus,” Plakut said of light rail. “We’re inconvenienced, but we’re not threatened by the construction. I suspect there are a number of small businesses that don’t necessarily have the same perspective.”

Plakut declined to discuss specific plans for the site if a deal should go through, but he noted that Episcopal Homes provides housing and services to seniors.

In the long run, new development is expected in the light rail corridor. But commercial real estate observers say that much of the area will be in a holding pattern while construction is under way.

“Even if the developers are anxious, I think lenders are going to be very cautious,” said Bill Morrissey, president of the St. Paul-based Morrissey Hospitality Cos.

The Porky’s property is assessed at $700,000, according to Ramsey County property records. The site measures about half an acre.

Porky’s once had four locations across the Twin Cities. The family still operates Tryg’s, an upscale restaurant at 3118 Lake Street W. in Minneapolis, once the site of another Porky’s location.

Historically, Porky’s was a drive-in hamburger joint. In recent times, Porky’s has not offered carhop service. But many customers park their vehicles in the Porky’s lot after getting food at the drive-up window.

Nora Truelson fondly recalled the early days of the drive-in.

“It was great. There were proms on University Avenue. It was a very popular place. It was the first drive-in on University Avenue,” Truelson said. “Everybody went there.”

She knows that many longtime customers will be sad to see Porky’s close.

“I’m kind of sad myself,” Truelson said.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

As I drive down University I see one vacant business after another.

The construction of light rail will further depreciate business and property values along University Ave, this opens the way for future developers to obtain property below market value.

Many residents of Saint Paul I talk to about light rail have the opinion they don't want it or need it or it should have been built on pedestals above University. At street level it is only a matter of time before the killer train (light rail) starts claiming victims in Saint Paul like it has in Minneapolis.

And once again the city of Saint Paul puts forth actions to rid the city of classic car enthusiast and cruising. Over the years crusiers have lost the LOOP downtown, we lost lake Como and Phalen and now we have lost University. And we may lose a city icon PORKY'S.

It's another sad day in the city of Saint Paul.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And once again the city of Saint Paul puts forth actions to rid the city of classic car enthusiast and cruising."

I got it Bob, we shouldn't be concerned about economic revitalization and trying to bring businesses into those store fronts, what we should be concerned about is "cruising." That's what would make the city healthy and increase the tax base... cruising.

Here's the deal Bob. The price of gas is no longer 26 cents a gallon. The price of gas is $3.57 a gallon. Every successful city on the planet has developed fixed rail of one kind or another to improve its commercial corridors and/or bring life into the central city. Subway, street cars, MARTA, BART, light rail, monorail... some kind of method of getting people out of their damned autos onto the train. That is the future. That is what makes a successful city in the real world.

But, in Saint Paul it is always 1959. We don't need no street cars, we don't need no buses, we don't need no fixed rail... its going to take away parking spaces, its only going to hurt us.

Despite city after city proving just the opposite... that business will do better and will locate in areas where the train drops them on the front door.

Look at the census figures for what has happened to the twin cities in the last ten years and it ought to scare you. In the cities where there are good transportation systems in the central cities, the money is moving back into the city. People are moving back into the downtown core to go to the theater and concerts and to take advantage of an urban "car free" life.

But, not here all the money is in the outer burbs because we are still building for the car and to get people out of the cities. We are still creating the doughnut whole and every new lane on the freeway is another dagger in the heart of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. I don't want more freeways in the burbs, and I am sick of paying for them with my tax dollars!!! That what is killing University Avenue and it is fixed rail that may bring it back.


Chuck Repke

2:49 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Chuck, Chuck, CHUCK!

As always you select a paragraph or 2 from my lengthy comment and you put your spin on it.

1. Why isn't the city compensating all the businesses that will be effected by this or buy them out? <-- Wouldn't this be fair and honest governing?

How many fat cat developers do you have lined up like vultures waiting to consume the devalued properties Chuck?

2. And Chuck, a car is FREEDOM, freedom of movment in any direction.

3. Lives would have been saved if this train was built on a pedistal. I think I made it clear in my first comment I am OK with light rail had it been built on a pedestal.

I will keep a count here at the town hall of the maimed and murdered by the killer train. Another man died this week in Minneapolis on the tracks of the killer train.

I wonder if the DFL lead city council and mayor in Saint Paul gave any consideration to the numerous deaths this train is responsible for. It seems to average at least one death every year. My guess is they did and due to money restraints and a determination to have this TRAIN they thought oh well what is a few lives here and there we have our TRAIN!

Once again the city of Saint Paul leadership shows us we the citizens are nothing more than hamburger in the face of progress.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many people died on 494 last year?



All of the f'ing freeways that suck money out of cities and move it into suburbs?

Killer train???? Killer roads!

Bob, your property rights friends ended the City's ability to acquire property for redevelopment purposes using eminent domain. They no longer have the power to do it. So, cities can no longer go to court to acquire property for "just compensation" for parking lots or to buy and hold in these situations. They can't do it. The property owners would ask for Billions and whine in the press that the City was trying to screw they aren't buying anything.

You guys won and the cities are stuck. So, it will be private parties that will buy these properties if/when people need to sell. That is why Porky's is selling now, before there is a crunch and other property gets dumped on the market.

It will be 3-4 years before values go back up. Its to bad that the city's hands are tied. In the old days, they would have bought property at fair price, put in some parking lots during construction and resold the land for development afterwords.


Chuck Repke

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be 3-4 years before values go back up. Its to bad that the city's hands are tied. In the old days, they would have bought property at fair price, put in some parking lots during construction and resold the land for development afterwords

But Chuck, the change is that these investors can deal under the table with the city and not have to pay as much and they will be given 20 year tax's beaks of some kind that will put Hundreds of Thousands back in the investors pocket and then in turn will donate to the Democratic Party to help grease the poles and election time.
By the way Chuck, how much do you have invested?

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck Repke , Broker at Capitol Brokerage

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off 12:25 - yes I am a real estate broker... its not a secret, I have been in real estate for about 6 years. If you want to buy or sell property give me a call.

Second 12:22 - I love the idea that everything that is done publicly is somehow "under the table." I just told you all what the law change has done.

This is a fact: The state legislature changed the law several years ago that stops cities from buying property for economic development purposes using eminent domain. It also does not allow cities to buy property using eminent domain because the property is "blighted." (It technically allows it for blight but made it so there was no property in the state that would meet the definition of blight.)

So, market forces will be the only thing that determines what happens on University Ave for the next several years while construction is going on.

...and neither I nor my brokerage currently own any property on University Ave. But, if you want to list something, give me a call.

So, again, my point was that Bob said, that the City should have been out there buying some of this property in advance of the train. His point was that it would have been fairer to negotiate a fair price with the owners now before construction killed some of them. I then explained that they are not allowed to do that anymore. The property rights guys killed it. City's can't have a judge determine a fair price, so it is pointless in these situations to wade in only to get your head kicked in.

Like I said in the old days, they would have bought some land on spec to create temp. parking lots and sold it for redevelopment afterwords. Can't do that now.


Chuck Repke

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again the city of Saint Paul leadership shows us we the citizens are nothing more than hamburger in the face of progress.


7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Light rail pushes Porky’s Out".
Development screwed up the Down Town's loop, we almost lost MICKEYS DINNER Mickey's Diner - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. and we lost the Down Town White Castle Hamburger
Seven Corners where Seven Streets crossing one intersection where the XCEL Center is now,
that made St.Paul into a Grave Yard with street lights...

1:43 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

I heard on the radio yesterday a developer is buying Porky's to build housing on that site.

Eric had suggested sometime ago Pierce Butler would be a good alternative for cruising. Now, if someone would capitalise on Porky's name and build a Porky's on Pierce Butler it would jump start cruising on that street. :)

6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you sell real estate do you Chcuk? Do you have any slums that can be bought cheap and milked on the eastside or north end? Big subsidies from the city would be a plus but not required.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Efforts made to save Porky's drive-in before it's too late


8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What people here don't seem to remember is that Chuck was involved in the "STOP 35" group that delayed the building I35 through St. Paul and we are now forced to have a 45 MPH speed limit on this "Practice Highway." Thanks Chuck!

The STOP 35 group that Chuck was a founding member of thought that putting I35 in St. Paul would ruin St. Paul. The truth was it went through Crocus Hill neighborhood a RICH Democrat neighborhood. The Crocus Hill folks didn't give a damn when I94 went through the Black Rondo neighborhood and moved these good minority folks out of their neighborhood.

Chuck doesn't care that LTR will destroy another neighborhood full of hardworking minorities. LTR won't effect the Crocus Hill bunch or Chuck's RICH White Democrat friends. Chuck doesn't care that University is becoming another Rondo right before our eyes. It is because Chuck is a Rich WHITE Democrat who could care less about the University Avenue unless he can make a buck off a government project.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We certainly need a light rail train running through the heart of one of the poorest parts of St. Paul. I am oh so sure that those who live in frogtown will be willing to pay the extra price to ride the train, when the bus is half the cost. The city planners and the met council certainly did not do their math when they decided a train was in everyones best interest. Not only are long term buisiness like Porkys closing their doors, but we will also lose the wonderful displays of vintage vehicles on the hot summer weekends. I for one will not ride the train and will continue to take the bus. The bus will stop at the stops that i need to get off at, while the train will just whiz right by. It takes 15 minutes to get downtown by bus from snelling and university. There is nothing in downtown st paul to do after 5pm. It is a ghost town. I am in no hurry to get there.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blame the DFL for its closing! Ryback and friends closed the Porky's in NE Mpls. because of complaints of business traffic! Of course the so-so traffic from the Middle Eastern restaurant there in its place is completely acceptable...not to mention it was across the street from a noisy police station!


2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:48 - when I was a part of the law suit to stop 35E I lived at 870 Palace Avenue. That isn't Crocus Hill that is West Seventh Street where the road was being pushed through. The reason for the successful law suit was that 35E was not needed to meet the Federal Government's goals of linking the country together in freeway network. 35W was already completed, so the standard for the EIS was higher.

The settlement was a good deal for the state, I still believe that we could have won the case and forced the damn thing to never have gotten the direct connection to 94 and force the state to give the Federal money back that the spent to construct that section.

Rember Asshole... I was a young married man in my twenties and the STATE went to court and got the bench to order that all of us involved in the suit had to put OUR HOUSES up as potential collateral in case the state was to win and get damages.

So you clowns who whine about the government this and that... you have no idea what you are talking about or who you are talking to.

For the right to go to court against the State I had to risk everything that I owned. I had to put my house on the line.

The purpose of a FREEWAY is to get people the hell out of town it damages the neighborhoods it moves through. The purpose of the Light Rail line is to pick up passengers in the neighborhoods and move them to place to place. The light rail line has stops every few blocks.

The purpose of light rail lines is to serve the community its in. The purpose of freeways is to kill cities.

The problems of Porkey has little to do with lite rail and much more to do with the changing shopping, driving and entertainment practices of the area. Most of the people who have attachment to Porkeys are all 50+, there are few people younger than 50 who are attached to a local burger stop anywhere in the country.


Chuck Repke

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Chuck, I just logged on to say, the hell with Porky's. If Porkys was profitable at that location- it wouldn't be going anywhere. It reminds me of the bars that closed using the smoking ban as an excuse when they were on their way out because no one was drinking there anymore.

The crowd that Porky's cater to, no longer live in St Paul. They are mostly suburbanites. Let Porky's reopen in White Bear Lake on Hwy 61 or Beam Ave in Maplewood.

2:13 said- "There is nothing in downtown st paul to do after 5pm. It is a ghost town. I am in no hurry to get there."

You haven't been downtown since Chris has been Mayor, have you? Or, you're a Porkys and Mickey's fan. Because downtown St Paul has come back alive.

After five happy hour is jumping in several areas of downtown. Around St Peters you've got the St Paul Hotel, Great Waters Brewery and Pazza Luna, Kinaids, Wyld Times, and Sakura.

7th Street around the Excel Center is crowded with places for friends to grab a drink and food. Tom Reid's, McGovern's and the Liffy come to mind.

Lowertown is probably the most happening spot when there is no game at the X. You can find me at Bulldog's or Barrio's which is always packed. Senior Wongs is awesome. There are a dozen newer places catering to thousands of newer downtown residents occupying the condos and lofts.

I'm on my way to Barrio's tonight. Come on over and I'll pop for the tequila shot of your choice- within reason of course. Seriously, St Paul finally has a nightlife. I think its ties to the new residents living down there.

Come on out and enjoy not paying $8 for a beer in a bottle or $12 for a mixed drink like you do in downtown Minneapolis.


5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric you are full of it. Your friend and mentor, Mayor Chris Coleman has done a lot to destroy our Downtown and St. Paul in general. Downtown is DEAD! I work and have good friends who live Downtown.

Chuck. I think you are the "asshole." LTR is killing the businesses on the Avenue, no matter what buisiness model they have. Have you talked to any of them? Why don't you attend a Chamber meeting sometime? Their business plans are solid until the Avenue was closed or very restricted due to the LTR construction. This is going to go on for what two years. I would like to see you do a business on the Avenue for two years under this construction. These businesses don't have taxing authority like the city does. There is no endless supply of money to keep these businesses going like the city has.

As for the STOP 35 group. You had our mayor's father Nick Coleman in your camp. It is interesting now some 30+ years later he is on the side of LRT. I guess it isn't a white neighborhood is it. I grew up in the West 7th neighborhood, got married at St. Stans and had good friends lose their homes to the I35 construction only to have it stopped by your group. Retarded is all I can say to you and your group is simple-minded idiots. I do wish they would have taken your house and all you had for it was a useless lawsuit. I had a very good friend who owned a bar/restaurant on West 7th. Nick would curse you out all day as being that "idiot." RIP Nick!

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:07 - We got Nick to support us after almost ten years of fighting. Nick was very slow to come on board. You are clueless to what we went through. I could write a book on all of the fights I have had with City hall... but fighting city hall takes more than crying in your beer, which is what most of the people on this list seem willing to do.

I didn't say that there weren't going to be businesses that had problems on the avenue with the lite rail lines construction. I would not want to be in the shoes of anyone going through a two year construction period.

All I said is that isn't the biggest problem that a drive in on University Avenue has a fan base of people 55 years of age and older. I love the place, but I am 57 years old and having to watch my collesteral... I can't eat all of the burgers and onion rings I did at twenty.

The desision to build the lite rail line happened because people were concerned about how to keep University Avenue competitive and how to get people to live along the avenue.

As to downtown being dead, you have to be freaking kidding me. There are more bars and restaurants going in downtown today then there has been in the last 40 years. There is more happening now downtown then when I was first hitting the bars downtown in 1972.

So, this downtown is dead crap means you're an old man that is still crying that the MGM closed.


Chuck Repke

12:24 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

The city doesn't have to lose Porky's.

One, I'd like to see the city work with the Truelson's and relocate the business saving the original sign for the new building.

Two, if the Truelson's aren't interested in continuing with Porky's it is my wish the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota non-profit group will purchase the sign on Monday and find a developer to relocate Porky's to a new and bigger Porky's possibly on the old Minnehaha Bowling Lanes site. Other possible business's for this site could be a car wash and auto store, a gas station, and pool hall. Any business that would cater to car enthusiast.

Crusing cars on Pierce Butler wouldn't have the negative impact it has on University.

The city of Hastings promotes classic car events. Hopkins, and North Saint Paul also make accomadations for these week end classic car events, let's not lose the revenue these people bring to the area.

Let's not lose what has become a big part of Saint Paul for many years. This is more like a death then a business closure. It's sad!

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Bill Dahn said...

Thank Heaven for PORKEY'S this long
Next time you go sitting along
U Av on Friday or Saturday Nights to watch the nice collection of vintage auto's driving by showing off their "Dream Cars" that they invested all their money to make and show others that they can have one too!.
NOW sit along U Av. and watch The Lite Rail pass by.

But just like Down Town St.Paul when the Mayor and City Council made plans to stop people from Shooting the LOOP by blocking off the main streets that allowed people to drive through Down Town with Green Lights all the way and not being hassled with the messed up street system that they call St.Paul, that's why people will sooner shop elsewhere.

Dose anyone remember this song by Joni Mitchell

Big Yellow Taxi --> The Neighborhood

- Joni Mitchell

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
and a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And they put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Dont it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Thank You All.
Bill Dahn

12:06 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

ERIC, if you think Porky's wasn't making money, you lost a few screws! In the summer the place is packed most weekends and if you drove University yesterday you would have seen classics cars and hot rods lined up for blocks waiting to get into Porky's.

How could Porky's stay open and have a lost for over 2 years? Also, light rail down the middle of University on the street would hinder how people unite to see the hot rods and classics having an effect on profits.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Downtown is not dead and Porky's is.
How many people who live up and down University (in the neighborhoods) actually have a vintage car or even 'dream' about having one?
I've seen Porky's packed on the weekend, its just not my seen and since the '72 442 is still not drivable, I've had no desire to hang out at a drive-in (why is it called a drive-in and isn't a drive through faster?)

North St Paul has a real nice show. University avenue, like the Mississippi River is a functional strip. It changes with the times. People complained about the construction of the Capitol being there. People complained when you could not have horse drawn fruit and vegetable carts up and down University and others complained when 94 was built predicting that it would kill business on University.

Adapt or die, just stop whining crying about every change that happens. Porky's says they're making money and leaving because of Lite Rail? Fine, they are making a business decision. Start a campaign asking them to stay. Me? I'm looking for property deals on Peirce Butler. A drive through Dunn Bros Coffee will be a money maker. Instead of discount furniture stores on University you may see book stores, and place where you can download music and book applications for your portable reader, ipad or ipod. Things that people use while riding a train. Again, adapt or die,


2:10 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Eric, I'd like to make that 442 drivable for you. :)

The 442 is one of my favorite classic's. It is a shame it is sitting around.

Give me a call.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The train is going to pick people up in the neighborhood? NOT! The only reason you DFLrs want that train is so you fat cats can come tyhrough the ghetto looking out the windows and down your noses at the little people. You are all disgusting.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Its in a shop with several others. My father in-law restores and rebuilds muscle cars - except Fords. He won't touch a Ford. The '72 442 is something of a tradition on that side of the family, at any one time there are three or four ready for show and another three or four in some state of being near ready.

It was one of the great ones wasn't it?

When I was 20, I had a old '68 Cougar my cousin and I bought, rebuilt most of it and sold it for ridiculous low price. I remember being happy that I had enough money to go to Mexico and pay for my books for the upcoming semester.

I like owning the cars, I'm not so big on watching them cruise. In Fargo, every Thursday the classics and muscle cars would line up and down Broadway (still do, this was just last year). It was nice to look outside of the office window and see the cars or to have a drink on the roof of the HoDo while they cruise.

I guess I'm just too young and too new to St Paul to appreciate what Porky's was. So, I won't miss it.


5:05 PM  

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