O'Gara's might be bulldozed, replaced by apartments (and a smaller O'Gara's)

Coming soon to O'Gara's: tiny O'Gara's?

Coming soon to O'Gara's: tiny O'Gara's? Google Streetview

Big changes are afoot for a St. Paul institution.

O’Gara’s, the beloved, 77-year-old, third-generation family-run tavern at 164 Snelling, might not be quite the O'Gara's you remember much longer. According to a Wednesday Union Park District Council newsletter, owner Dan O’Gara is working with developer Tony Barranco from Ryan Companies (the developer behind the Whole Foods and Vintage Apartments building that just opened across the street on Snelling and Selby) to transform the space.

Reached on Wednesday, a representative for O'Gara's declined to comment for this story.

But Union Park DC executive director Julie Reiter says O'Gara's and Ryan Companies have been in conversation for some time, and recently looped her in. The bar and development company have verbally sketched out some broad plans, which are roughly as follows: knock down the existing O'Gara's building and surface parking lot, and replace it with a bigger building, one with apartments, interior parking, and a new version of O’Gara’s bar -- a smaller one -- located on the ground floor.

“I think the way Ryan Companies tends to work is they like to engage the community really early in the process,” she says. They’ve been on-the-down-low talking to adjacent neighbors who will be impacted by the change, and they’ll discuss those plans more fully at a March 19 Committee on Land Use and Economic Development meeting. “Dan O’Gara, he’s so great,” she adds. “He’s so community-minded.”

Reiter describes this as a “smaller-scale Vintage [Apartments] project,” but the parcel would have to be rezoned, and she thinks it would roughly have to match that Vintage zoning. 

As for the look? “What they said is, it’ll look different than the Vintage, so that it’s distinct, but still be along that same scale," she adds. "I know that O’Gara’s is going to be smaller, for sure, and it would be the only commercial tenant in the building.”

Dan O'Gara and Ryan Companies’ Tony Barranco will flesh out their plans for the community at the March 19 Union Park District Council meeting. Also on the docket for March 19? A potential plan to convert the old-school Dairy Queen across the street -- which closed in 2017 after 65 continuous years of family ownership -- into a single-story retail-commercial building with a Red’s Savoy pizza place.