Julie Sabin, left, owner of Rooftop Bar + Kitchen talks with North Mankato resident Claudia Vosbeck during an open house Wednesday where drawings of the restaurant and the new Frandsen Bank, in background, were displayed for visitors.

NORTH MANKATO — Claudia Vosbeck has seen more change than most in North Mankato.

Her dad’s house on Cedar Street was moved to make way for a highway and bridge in the 1950s. And she lives on property on Wheeler Avenue that was owned by her grandfather.

“There was a blacksmith’s shop on the corner of Cedar. And there was Art’s Deluxe sandwich shop. I’ve seen lots of changes,” Vosbeck said as she chatted Wednesday with Julie Sabin, the owner of one of the latest transformations to come to lower North Mankato.

Sabin was at an open house at Frandsen Bank where drawings of her project, the Rooftop Bar + Kitchen, and a new Frandsen Bank building were on display. Sabin, Frandsen Bank President Nick Hinz, architects and contractors were on-hand to answer people’s questions.

Frandsen Bank & Trust is building a new office next to the Circle Inn on Belgrade Avenue, while the Rooftop Bar + Kitchen will build next to the American Legion.

They are expected to open next spring.

Velma Rowles, a 50-year resident of lower North Mankato, has also seen plenty of changes to the community and was impressed with the new developments.

“I think it looks nice. It will be good to have another nice restaurant down here. It’s nice to see new things happening,” Rowles said.

Resident Tom Hagen has been critical of some parts of the designs for the new buildings, saying he doesn’t believe they follow the city’s historic preservation guidelines for the area.

He said he still has qualms with an angled end of the restaurant and a bump-out that rises on one end of the bank, but said he’s overall happy with the new developments.

He likes that the buildings will be built out to the sidewalk, with parking behind, similar to the older buildings on the block. And he likes the brick and windows on the first level of the Rooftop and the brick on the bank.

“I love the new development. and I’m thrilled these guys are willing to hold an open house and talk to people,” Hagen said.

Demars Construction is building the bank and Max DeMars said they’re working through final details with plans to start construction at the end of the year or in January.

Ryan Evenson, owner of of APX Construction, said they plan to begin work on the new restaurant in January. Demolition of the former convenience store and Frandsen Bank’s drive-thu are to happen late this year or in January.

He said starting projects in the winter is something they’re used to. “We work all year round. There’s a little more planning and time in the winter. These should be two good projects for the city — liven Belgrade up a little.”

Frandsen and a developer are working on potential redevelopment of their current building, located next to the NaKato Bar and Grill, across the street from the new developments, or they could sell the building.

Last spring Sabin announced plans to redevelop the convenience store into the bar and kitchen, but talks began about a larger project that would include the bank and a new building for the restaurant.

She said being able to design a building from scratch is preferable to trying to reuse an existing building.

“It’s great to develop the flow of the space the way you want it operationally.”

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