ST. CLOUD -- A former bank building in east St. Cloud has been sold. Bob Abel has bought the building at 300 East St. Germain Street. The deal was finalized on Friday.

Eastside bank, photo by WJON.com's Jim Maurice

Abel says most of that building is already leased out to tenants like the state of Minnesota's Department of Corrections. He says there is still about 5,000 square feet available, which he hopes to be able to attract a medical or dental facility to go into that space.

Get our free mobile app

Eastside Boosters Spokeswoman Joan Jaye says having more usable office space on the east side would be a good thing.

I think that's a great idea.  Many people probably don't remember what the inside of that building looks like but it's really stunning.

East Side Bank, photo by WJON.com's Jim Maurice

There's a big clock tower feature that goes along with the building. Abel is working with the city to have artists create some sort of iconic gateway feature for the eastside. It is believed that the tower could be the tallest structure in all of Benton County. Abel wants it to be a wow factor that is visible both day and night.

St. Cloud Community Development Director Matt Glaesman says,

"the city is assisting Abel with issuing a call for artists to solicit ideas for turning the bank tower into an iconic gateway feature along East St. Germain.  Given its size and prominent location, the tower presents a unique opportunity to establish a brand and sense of place for the East Side."

Abel also owns the former Ace Bar building on St. Germain Street. He says he's closer than ever to attracting a restaurant chain to open in that building.

Ace Bar, photo by WJON.com's Jim Maurice

The Ace has been closed since October of 2016 and has sat empty since then. Abel bought the building in January of 2017. He says, if he can get a deal done there, he'd like to buy the former Dutchmaid Bakery building to put in a patio for the restaurant. He also owns the entire parking lot behind the Ace.

Kwik Trip bought the east end of the block but has yet to develop it.

Eastgate, photo by WJON.com's JIm Maurice

Abel says his Eastgate properties on East St. Germain Street are doing well for him with about 95 percent occupancy rate since Benton County moved in, he says there's about 4,000 square feet still available.

Jaye says she is happy to finally see some projects in the works to redevelop the east side.

For several years now I've been trying to tell people the east side is a blank canvass.  There's been a lot of demolition, a lot of vacancies, but it's a place where there is opportunity.

Another project in the works on the east side is the former GulfEagle Supply building on East St. Germain Street which Kevin Johnson Construction has recently bought and wants to turn into a multi-use office and retail entertainment complex.

10 Foods That We Are Putting in the Fridge that Shouldn't Be