Adult bookstore along Highway 10 in Ramsey razed as new Fantasy’s store opens

As the sun rose Friday morning, Aug. 9,the iconic, but controversial, adult bookstore along Highway 10 in Ramsey was torn down. The lowest demolition bidder was Reshetar Systems, whose owner lives in Ramsey. Photo by Eric Hagen

As the sun rose Friday morning, Aug. 9,the iconic, but controversial, adult bookstore along Highway 10 in Ramsey was torn down. The lowest demolition bidder was Reshetar Systems, whose owner lives in Ramsey. Photo by Eric Hagen

A Ramsey couple are questioning a new store called Fantasy’s that opened the day before a controversial adult bookstore along Highway 10 was demolished.

As morning commuters quickly drove by Aug. 9, Andover resident Josh Holmstrom of the Anoka-based Reshetar Systems company was in the seat of the backhoe that tore down the green adult bookstore building called Da Bookstore that has been a fixture for over 23 years.

The building lay in a heap within half-an-hour after he started around 7 a.m.

Reshetar Systems founder and owner Brett Reshetar lives in Ramsey so he grew accustomed to seeing the green building and was thrilled when he found out that his company had the lowest demolition bid out of several companies.

“The feedback from the community has been positive once I told people we’re the ones tearing down the bookstore,” Reshetar said. “It’s nice to see the eyesore gone.”

But as this building was being torn down, Wayne and Maria Buchholz were questioning a new store being opened down the road at 6139 Highway 10 NW and again questioning why the Anoka County Housing and Redevelopment Authority covered the $361,100 for the city of Ramsey to buy Da Bookstore from Arnold Holmberg and subsequently pay $9,870 for it to be demolished.

Buchholz also questioned the involvement of Ramsey-based Premier Commercial Properties in the deal.

“It’s asinine that (the city) bothered to purchase the property and now we have a new store across the street,” Wayne Buchholz said. “To say I’m upset about it is an understatement.”

The Ramsey HRA unanimously approved the purchase May 14 although Councilmember Tossey was absent and said he would have voted no because the city has not found another use for this property. He is not opposed to the store going away though, just the timing.

Councilmember and HRA chairperson Randy Backous said he can buy the argument of someone being upset about Fantasy’s opening after Da Bookstore closed, but he would 100 percent of the time approve the purchase of the old bookstore.

“To me, they’re two separate things and for people to try to tie these things together is annoying to me,” Backous said. “They’re separate owners, separate transactions. The former bookstore was an eyesore on Highway 10, an embarrassment to the city of Ramsey.”

From the feedback Backous has received, almost all residents he has heard from support the city’s decision.

The separate deals

Marty Fisher of Premier Commercial Properties was Holmberg’s broker when Da Bookstore property sale closed June 27 with the city of Ramsey. The very next day, the large red “XXX” and “Adult Book Store” signs were taken down.

Rodney Lee also works in the Premier Commercial Properties office, but Ramsey Jr. Partners LLC owns the building now being leased to Fantasy’s. Lee is the registered agent of Ramsey Jr. Partners LLC, according to Minnesota Secretary of State records.

Fisher was not involved in this property leasing deal with Fantasy’s in any way, according to both Fischer and Lee.

“One (deal) had nothing to do with the other one,” Lee said.

Jim Patterson, who has owned Fantasy’s for 10 years and has two other locations in East Grand Forks and Fargo, N.D., said “it was kind of a coincidence” that his third store opened Aug. 8 and the old adult bookstore was demolished Aug. 9.

Patterson lives in North Dakota, but used to live in Coon Rapids and East Bethel and still has connections to the area. After six months of searching the metro area, this location seemed promising, so he called the phone number he saw on an advertising billboard that went to Lee.

City purchasing Da Bookstore

Matt Look, a former Ramsey City Councilmember who is now one of four Anoka County commissioners on the Anoka County HRA, said had he known that Fantasy’s would be opening, he would have raised more opposition to the county HRA approving the use of funds to purchase and demolish Da Bookstore.

Look said he contacted Backous, chairperson of the Ramsey HRA, to notify him that Da Bookstore could be going into foreclosure this fall if it did not pay its delinquent property taxes. According to county records, $60,192.25 in deferred property tax payments including interest and penalties was paid at closing.

Backous remembers the conversation differently. He said Look offered his support. Backous emphasized these are county HRA dollars that the city has not used for some time and he feels this money should be used to clean up blight along a busy corridor.

These dollars actually come from Ramsey taxpayers through a county HRA property tax levy. The city must subsequently make applications to the county HRA to get this money back for eligible projects.

Look said the county HRA’s precedence has been to approve requests if the money is available and the statutory requirements have been met, which Ramsey did in this case.

Although there was a possibility of the building going into foreclosure, Backous was concerned about the uncertainty of what could have happened on that property with a new buyer.

“Anybody could buy out that foreclosure and we’d still have that crappy building be up,” Backous said.

The city tried to purchase the old adult bookstore in the past, so Look appreciates the fact that this has been accomplished.

“Given the bad blood with the city, (Holmberg) wouldn’t even entertain an offer even if it was twice what the market value was,” Look said. “It was a matter of principle for him.”

Look said he would have loved to have the opportunity as a councilmember to approve the purchase of the property, but feels the city could have let things play out.

The building that Fantasy’s now leases has been vacant for two-and-a-half years since Wells Catering moved out, Lee said.

According to county property tax records, Ramsey Jr. Partners LLC has not paid any property taxes since May 16, 2011 and currently owes $46,121.80 in delinquent property taxes, which includes interest and penalties.

“We have to make the payments somehow,” Lee said.

Meets city ordinance

Maria Buchholz referenced Fantasy’s as a “smut store” in an email sent to ABC Newspapers. Maria and Wayne said they did not go inside the business, but were horrified by what they saw at the www.fantasysrus.com business website.

Patterson said the products customers purchase on a website come from a general warehouse that serves multiple companies and many of the products listed there are not available in the Ramsey store. His business is developing its own website.

“Everyone thinks it is a dirty bookstore. That’s not what it is,” Lee said.

About 8 percent of Fantasy’s new Ramsey store floor space is for items such as pornographic videos, toys, fetish items and other sexual products, according to Patterson.

Patterson said many of his clientèle are women having bachelorette parties and couples.

These items are in the corner of the store, behind red swinging saloon doors that clearly note that a person must be 18 years old to go back there.

The rest of the store comprises mostly lingerie and novelty items that Patterson and Lee said could be found at Victoria’s Secret or Spencer’s.

In order for Fantasy’s to stay in business within 1,000 feet of an on-sale liquor establishment, this adults only area must not account for more than 20 percent of its gross receipts or more than 10 percent of its 6,000 square-foot floor space.

Fantasy’s is not considered a principal adult business like Da Bookstore was because it meets the city’s definition of an accessory adult use due to at least 90 percent of its floor space being open to people under the age of 18.

Tim Gladhill, Ramsey’s development services manager, said the adult use ordinance allows the city to review the business every year to ensure it does not primarily become an adults only business.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

 

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

  • Dick Long

    We Are All Sorry To See The Adult Bookstore Go.

    It Has Been Doing Business Successfully In Our Community For Over 23 Years.
    Are You Tired Yet Of The Parents Who Complain That In Last 23 Years Driving Past, That They Had To Explain The Birds & The Bees To Their Kids? That Is A Parents Responsibility Anyways.
    I’m Sure Now That The World Will Be A Much Better Place To Live (sigh).
    Thank You XXX Adult Bookstore.

  • Wayne Buchholz

    It’s too bad that another smut store will be coming into the City of Ramsey right behind the OUTPOST Bar and Grill. Our City Council wasted our tax dollars again, as this store was $60,000.00 behind in County taxes and missed their 2nd notice. So we didn’t need to buy this as the County would have taken it over for back taxes. And yes the County did advise the City of this before they purchased it. Another funny thing about this purchase, the realtor for this transaction was done by Premier Commercial Properties (owed by Marty Fisher) and this same company is the land lord of the new smut store. Nice job City Council, Are you working for Marty or us? You know the residents of Ramsey!

    • gloria

      Maybe you should go inside Fantasys before calling it a a smut store. The one in Fargo is highly respected by customers. Please look before you judge.

      • Wayne Buchholz

        I did go inside with my wife to double check because I was told that it was just lingerie. To my dismay it had everything but the kitchen sink. So before you open your mouth check your facts, or if you don’t now what smut is then you must be the most ignorant person on this planet. But if you like to patronage those establishments that’s a freedom that you can exercise but do not sit there and insult my intelligence because I know the difference between a Bible and an x rated smut video. Have a good day and I will be praying for you.

      • Jim Bendtsen

        Specialties

        Fantasy Gifts® Bringing the best in adult items to our 13 stores and into your home! For over 30 years now we have specialized in the most up to date and popular sexual products and gifts such as vibrators, dildos, lubricants, DVD, stunning lingerie, menswear, restraints, shoes, educations materials, massage oils and fun novelties.

  • Dick Long

    Obviously, Not Everyone Is Sad To See The XXX Adult Bookstore Close.
    It Was, In Fact, A Successful Business For Over 23 Years In The City Of Ramsey.
    Thank You XXX Bookstore For Your Service To The Community.

  • rockford pi

    Read much? The article clearly states this is a separate company and transaction. A lingerie store, behind a building, should not have a negative impact on anyone. I guess some people have nothing better to do.

  • Jim Bendtsen

    More info for the readers: research had to be done by the owner of Fantasy’s or Premier group to find out whether they could even lease this out to a porn store. Somewhere they had to learn that a store that has more than 10% primary graphic sales, could not be within 1000 feet of a bar.

    Again, the actions of the city council absolutely don’t match their words. Someone at the city failed to disclose to the city council the workings of Premier properties, who by the way is under contract with the Ramsey for management of their properties along 10. When you are getting your bread buttered by the city, and you bring a request for clarification of ordinance like this, the city has leverage…..guaranteed.

    What is also very interesting is Rod Lee’s statement that “We” needed to make our tax payments and therefore it is okay to lease the building to any entity, including another porn store.

    Marty Fisher didn’t know that his partner Rod Lee was working a deal, on the heels of the same sort of deal Marty was working? Bull

  • mandyfroemming

    I would like to remind everyone that while this is a place where you can share concerns and certainly disagree with each other, comments that include personal attacks and criticism of another person’s religious beliefs or practices will not be approved.

    ABC Newspapers

  • gloria

    Not Fantasy Gifts it is called Fantasys.

  • rockford pi

    I personally know all parties involved except the owner of the store. You are a master of misinformation. Go inside, check it out. See what it is all about. As for who reads more, you don’t know me so how could you know? More misinformation. Syop jumping to conclusions, be an adult and check it out before you get your blood pressure up.

    • Jim Bendtsen

      Actually, I’m a master of information. I also know many of the parties. I care about the process and the city council full of hypocrites pretending to be morally superior and wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in HRA funds to buy a property that was failing. The council members who wanted this purchase moved it up in time, knowing that the council member who opposed it would be out of town. The council members who voted for this posture and pretend that this was the “right thing to do”, then facilitated a new business of exactly the same type. The council members who voted for this ran on the issue of “not being in the development business”, then voted to be in the development business. Perhaps you’ve heard of the attempt by Mr. Deal to buy city land for 14% of it’s value and then to get a 45k subsidy for perpetuity? This is the kind of crap that this council will pass without at least one honest council member to hold them accountable. What’s your real name “rockford”? Hide much?

  • rockford pi

    i would imagine based on your position you are a proponent of saving tax dollars and letting a business make their own way. This property sat vacant and this was the only business willing to take the space. The city was told this from the beginning. They knew this would come about. I have visited this place and so has my wife. Nothing different than Victorias secret. I also had been in the place across the street and you can’t compare the two because they were two completely different businesses. If there is no demand, this business will fail. If it does well, then that means alot of your neighbors also see no problem with this sort of store. Stop being a wet blanket and imposing your beliefs on the rest of us. If you don’t like it, don’t go. Pretty simple.

    • Wayne Buchholz

      Yes, I am a proponent of saving tax dollars and letting a business make their own way. That’s why it was a waste of money for the City to buy out the 1st smut store for almost $400 thousand. Not to mention the store was way behind in County taxes and it was just a matter of time before the County was going to take it over. You must be a special kind of stupid to think that this new smut store isn’t any different than Victoria Secret. I know Victoria Secret does not sell x rated movies and all the sex toys. So if this business fails I bet you are in favor of the City buying this one too. By the way which City council member are you? I have a good idea but I doubt that you have the guts to give us your real name.

  • Jim Bendtsen

    Great. Does your store sell the same items?

    • gloria

      Maybe you should walk in their store and then walk into a smut store and then you will see the difference.

  • Wayne Buchholz

    This is the best you could come up with? Splitting hairs over the name, Wow! I see you didn’t answer the rest of Jim’s question about the smut, you know x rated movies and sex toys etc… check out your website and then tell me you don’t sell smut…

    • Tami

      Obviously you know NOTHING about “smut”… (wayne) I’ll say no more. LOL!!

  • gloria

    If you don’t care why get all excited and cause drama about it? Just sayin

    • Tami

      Thank you Gloria – I couldn’t agree more!! :)

      • Wayne Buchholz

        Tami & Gloria
        The reason we are all excited and causing drama should be clear! Our City Council just wasted about $400,000. of our tax money on something that would have taken care of itself and cost our City nothing! If this doesn’t bother you then you must have a lot of money to waste or just plain ignorant!

  • Disgusted Resident

    Are you f’in kidding me? You’d think The City of Ramsey’s elected officials would keep taxpayers in mind when approving things like this! Is this like the time they took a trip to visit Ramsey’s sister city? How about the great “Core” project? So let me get this straight, Da Bookstore was most likely going into foreclosure because of past due property taxes, but instead the city/county shells out $370k to purchase and demolish it? Then, supposedly 2 Realtor’s who work at the same company don’t know anything about the 2 transactions? Give me a break, it had to of been spreading like wild fire within their office! Did they split the commission too? Then let’s open a day later to rub it in everyone’s face! The kicker is they approve the sale to a company that is behind in their property taxes as well?!? I happen to live in the Rivenwick condos nearby and this will be just another eyesore!!!! Major conflicts of interest and shady business dealings here!

  • Wayne Buchholz

    Patterson and Lee are not telling the truth when comparing Victoria Secret with the Fantasy’s Store. How many times do I have to tell you that what Fantasy’s sells is very pornographic, I was there it does not leave much to the imagination.

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