A little over two and a half years after the slaying of its owner Janko Naglic, the Barn nighclub is finally up for sale.
Since Naglic’s death, the popular Church St dance club has been under the control and management of the two executors appointed by Naglic in his will — Stephen Brailsford, former coowner of Slack Alice’s, and Tom Ricketts, Naglic’s longtime accountant.
An agreement formalized this month makes Ricketts the sole executor.
In their first year as executors, Brailsford and Ricketts renovated and reopened the Barn (which was then closed again), and sold off Naglic’s large Balliol St house and its kitschy contents. But the details of the disposition of the Barn, which has been closed since last June, became a sticking point.
“I’ve never seen such a messy estate,” says Ricketts.
In September 2005 Ricketts and Brailsford went to Slovenia to meet with Naglic’s family, the main beneficiaries, says Ricketts.
“The family instructed us to sell the Barn,” says Ricketts. There was conflict about this between the two executors. “Soon we were not talking to each other at all, and it became a matter of which one of us was going to stay or go as executor.”
What Ricketts now calls, “one big pissing match between us” kept the Barn in limbo until now.
On Mar 6, Brailsford filed a claim in provincial court to have Ricketts removed as an executor, which led to mediation and a settlement in May. Details of the settlement have been kept confidential. It was formally accepted by Justice Edward Belobaba of the Superior Court Of Justice Of Ontario on Jun 9.
Brailsford has formally resigned as an executor. Neither Brailsford nor his lawyer returned Xtra’s calls for this story.
Upon being made sole executor Ricketts says he immediately listed the Barn for sale.
The building and property (known legally as 745795 Ontario Ltd and comprising of 414-418 Church St) is listed with Bosley Real Estate for $1.85 million. The business (known as Les Gars Restaurant Limited) is listed separately for $295,000. Real estate agent Bob Airey is handling both.
“I would like the Barn to remain a bar serving the gay community,” Ricketts says. “People will come back to the Barn as its customer base has been very loyal over the decades.”
Ricketts says he renewed the liquor licence in November 2005, which remains valid until 2007. There have been eight unofficial offers on the property or business since Naglic’s death, says Ricketts. Ten people viewed the property on day one of its being listed.
Ricketts points out that there is considerable structural damage to the property that was uncovered by renovators after a fire destroyed part of the building in January 2005. The structural damage was confirmed independently by engineers hired by the executors last spring.
“The first floor is in abhorrent condition structurally after a supporting beam was taken out,” says Ricketts.
“Naglic bought the property and building in 1988 for $1.4 million, so I haven’t done much of a markup though my asking price is a little higher than the figure I got from two independent appraisers,” says Ricketts.
Any buyer has also to consider the money that needs to go into fixing the structural problems. “It is not a turnkey operation by a long shot,” says Ricketts.
In a move initiated by Councillor Kyle Rae the building was designated as an historical site by city council this spring. With this designation the façade itself at least must be maintained; a development could be built around it.
Even though a reopening as a gay bar is Ricketts’ favoured course, he admits that in the end he will probably accept the best offer. Will a developer come in and scoop it up? It would depend on if they were able to acquire the parking lot next door.
“At just 50 feet by 70 feet it is not really big enough for any major development,” says Ricketts.
Even after it’s sold, Ricketts says Naglic’s beneficiaries will not receive the proceeds for some time because of a legal dispute over the estate, filed by Naglic’s longtime companion Ivan Mendez.
Mendez, 36, is currently in custody awaiting trial on charges of first-degree murder related to Naglic’s death.