Landmark bar to go on the market

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LOCAL NEWS / A year after Barn owner's death, family decides to sell James Dubro / Toronto Xtra / Thursday, October 13, 2005

The family of the late Barn owner Janko Naglic has formally agreed to have the business and property listed for sale, raising questions about whether the place will ever reopen as a gay bar.

Estate executors Tom Ricketts and Stephen Brailsford returned from a trip to Slovenia last month where they met with Naglic's brother, sister and niece, Landmark bar to go on the market

A year after Barn owner's death, family decides to sell

the major beneficiaries of the estate, to talk about the future of the property and business at 418 Church St.

Naglic was found dead in his Balliol St home on Oct 27, 2004, triggering a 10-month investigation that resulted in an arrest in August.

Ivan Mendez-Romero, 36, of Toronto has been charged with first-degree murder.

Ricketts says the property will be listed for sale within the next few weeks, after the executors and those directly concerned agree on the details of the listing and which of several commercial real-estate brokers will handle the sale.

After Naglic's death, executors operated the Barn for several months, until a chimney fire in January closed the place. After renovations, it was opened again in May, but then closed amidst concerns about structural problems. Its doors have been locked since June.

Real estate records show that in 1988 Naglic paid $1.4 million for the property upon which the Barn sits. Ricketts declined to confirm the appraised value of the property and business.

"Since Naglic bought the property in 1988 commercial real-estate prices have remained pretty flat," Ricketts says, but "recently they have been on the ascent."

Several unsolicited offers have already come in for the Barn over the past few months, including a proposal from a well-known gay couple and friends of Naglic's, Larry Rogers and Ron Pugh. Owners of rental apartments, they also owned a condo near him in Miami and were frequent guests at Naglic's homes in Toronto and Miami. Pugh says that if their proposal is accepted, they would keep it as a gay bar.

"Janko would have wanted us to," says Pugh, "There are only a handful of gay dance bars left."

Ricketts confirms the interest of Rogers and Pugh but says the couple has yet to make a formal offer.

Ricketts and Joseph Zemljak, a friend of Naglic who also went to Slovenia, both say any new owners would have to put in some money for major renovations as the building will now need "considerable work" to bring it up to city building code. Ricketts says the executors' preference is that the Barn remain a gay bar, though he concedes they have to take the best offer on behalf of the estate.

In 1975 Naglic took over the property at 418 Church St and turned it into a gay bar, founding it as Jo-Jo's, then renaming it the Barn. The Barn was Naglic's self- proclaimed life's passion, a business he developed from nothing. The bar had grown to a three-storied complex with two dancefloors and several bars.

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