The owner of a 103-year-old building in downtown Rochester has filed paperwork to demolish the former bank building.
Co-owner Mike Hawkins filed a permit Monday to demolish the Olmsted County Bank building at 7 Second St. SW.
But the intent of the permit is not to tear down the building but to get the review process started for a renovation, Hawkins said.
“The main goal, of course, is not to demolish the property, but instead revitalize it,” Mike Hawkins and a representative of Capital Ventures LLC wrote in a letter sent to Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission Chairwoman Christine Schultze..
The letter outlines a plan for Capital Ventures to purchase the property at 7 Second St. SW and add floors to the building that was designated as a potential city landmark in 2019
Hawkins and his son, A.J. Hawkins, purchased the building in 2017 for $1.5 million. In 2019, they worked with Yong Hao Liu, who also owns Rochester’s two popular Ichi Tokyo sushi restaurants, to extensively remodel the 10,700-square-foot building to open a Japanese steakhouse and sushi restaurant called Fuji.
Fuji re-created the building's mezzanine level and added a skyway entrance to make access easier for customers. It seated about 80 on the main floor and about 120 on the second floor.
That restaurant never quite caught on. It closed in January 2020, before the pandemic began. Since then, the building has remained dark. The building was listed for sale at a price of $2.9 million.
Prior to Fuji, the complex housed Goonie's Comedy Club and the McGoon's Taxi Co. restaurant from 2005 to 2016.
The building dates from 1918 and originally was the Olmsted County Bank and Trust. It remained a bank until 1965. After that, it was home to Tinkler’s Restaurant from the 1970s to 1989, Waters Bar and Grill in 1990, the Clubhaus Brew Pub from 1995 to 1997, and O’Neill’s Pizza Pub from 2000 to 2004.