Fire-damaged former restaurant building is demolishedAfter months of trying to sell what was left of the fire-damaged former Hong Kong Restaurant structure, the owners ultimately decided to demolish it.
The walls of the compact brick and stucco of the former Hong Kong Restaurant in Cloquet’s west end were left standing following the late-night blaze that gutted its interior in July 2011. Ever since that time, the owners — the family that operates the current Hong Kong Restaurant on Highway 33 North — have kept it standing.
Last weekend all that changed, however. After months of trying to sell what was left of the fire-damaged structure, the owners ultimately decided to demolish it. Dumpsters were staged in the public parking lot behind the building, and over the weekend the walls were knocked down in preparation for final cleanup of the lot.
According to Holly Butcher, Cloquet community development director, the owner, Wing Lau, has not released any future plans for the lot where the building stood. She said at one time the city proposed that if Lau was willing to deed the lot over to the city, the city would pay for the cost of demolition with an eye toward possibly converting it to future green space, including benches and a walkway to the public parking lot behind it. Butcher said Lau did not accept the offer, however. She said he will now be responsible for at least minimal restoration of the site, including replacing soil and grass and maintaining it in the future.
The building that was destroyed by fire originally housed the Hong Kong Restaurant before the business moved out to the highway. Until the time of the fire, the building reportedly had been used as a temple for worship.
“Hopefully, this is just the first step in a better future for that space,” summed up Butcher.