No, honestly. I really want to know. The mere prospect of demolition here is entirely baffling to me. The property in question, 2306 Penn Avenue North, is one of the nicest houses on the block. In fact, after its pending demolition, there will be only one other house on that side of the street. And it's not like that one is so grand.
|If I had to pick which house to tear down, I'd move this family into the other house and get rid of this one.|
|It looks like the original siding is largely intact. Then again, the City interprets this as a lead hazard in need of demolition.|
|Clearly there is some roof damage, but nothing insurmountable.|
|When 2306 gets demolished, Keith Reitman will have the nicest house on the block. I will never forgive the City of Minneapolis for making it necessary to type that sentence.|
|One photo, two vacant lots.|
|Another vacant lot between these two homes.|
|I predicted some time ago that this house would be so lonely that the City would eventually tear it down just to have contiguous vacant lots.|
|This house should and will likely be torn down, and there's another vacant lot to the south of it.|
I still don't think my theory about vacant lots begetting vacant lots is a sufficient answer to why this house in particular needs to go. So let's start with the most benign reasons for demolition and work our way towards our likely answer.
First, is it reasonable to assume that the interior is so damaged that the structure is beyond repair? No. At least based on the houses I've seen that are on the verge of demolition, the exterior hints at an inside that is if not intact than certainly reparable. Until I know otherwise, I'm assuming that's the case here.
Maybe the land is needed for another use. The Five Points building sits to the north, and perhaps they need parking. Although given the difficulties in filling the building with tenants, that doesn't seem necessary yet. The parcel sits adjacent to 2101 West Broadway, which was just demolished. But combining the two into one parcel or even into one use seems like an awfully clumsy way to do site assembly. What if light rail comes down Penn and Broadway? Would this property be in the way? Maybe, maybe not, but we are still left with the question of why tear it down now? After all, it is City-owned so there's no risk of losing it to anyone we don't want mucking up that process. We could just wait until the route is known with certainty.
Having exhausted the innocuous theories, we move on to the next tier of possibilities. 2306 Penn Avenue North was a property listed on the Penn Avenue Redevelopment proposal. That proposal had little, if anything, to do with actual redevelopment. Instead, it was designed to allow the City of Minneapolis to seek State funding for the corridor. Here is what I wrote about that plan, or lack thereof, in December of last year:
The funding is not in itself an end; the funding is a means to accomplish...what?And THIS is precisely the reason I believe 2306 Penn Avenue North is being torn down. Whether the City was successful in its pursuit of State funding for the Penn Avenue redevelopment area, they still have a fair amount of Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds remaining - so much so that they are expanding the NSP III service area. One of the criticisms I have heard from others, and have made myself, about NSP is that the City is so worried about spending down those funds that they will contract them on a property just to get the money allocated - never mind if that action is appropriate for the community or not.
Obviously north Minneapolis could stand an infusion of state funds to help rehab, acquire, and demolish tornado-affected properties. A community corridor like Penn is as good of a place as any to focus those resources. So I actually would support the pursuit of the funds as long as there is a clearly defined plan that has been vetted by the communities where it would be implemented. In the areas along Penn where neighborhood and city cluster partnerships occur, it's safe to say that has happened or will happen. And the sooner we get rid of Reitman Row, the better.
But when city employees who present the plans say this is "not a specific proposal," don't pin down a definitive goal, and can't explain a framework for deciding what will happen with acquired properties, then we're just not ready to proceed. The city should be beholden to the constituents in the affected area. Without a better plan in place, I worry that they will go after state money and then be more committed to their funding application than to the neighborhoods they serve.
I believe that this house is on the verge of demolition because the City of Minneapolis is eager to spend down its NSP allocation before it must be returned to the federal government. But presumably it would cost even more in NSP money to refurbish than tear down, which would in turn accomplish the goal of spending as much as possible ahead of forfeiting the funds.
So again I ask, why is 2306 Penn Avenue North being demolished?