Friday, June 7, 2013
Who Authorized the Fire Department's Destruction of 3738 Dupont Ave N?
Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, video from Nicole Curtis Design on Youtube.
When the city of Minneapolis does really stupid things, like tear down 3738 Dupont Avenue North, they open themselves up to even more foolish allegations. After the demolition of yet another property over north that a) didn't need to come down, and b) had a willing seller and buyer, North Talk and the Minneapolis Issues Forum are full of allegations of plans to displace, or that there is some "big demo" group behind house destruction and if we only follow the money we'll find the real culprit. So in the same spirit, I will make my own assumption that may turn out to be foolish:
The owner of 3738 Dupont Ave N did not give permission for the Minneapolis Fire Department to conduct training at his property.
That prospect is one of the many things that bothers me about this house going down, but other preservation angles are already articulated elsewhere. If I am incorrect in my assertion, the rest of this post can be dismissed. If I'm not, then either the city has statutory authority to conduct non-emergency and non-administrative entry to vacant properties, or someone downtown authorized and coordinated the MFD training with zero respect for private property.
Why is this a problem?
Well, imagine if the owner was all lawyered up, and was just about to have his attorneys coerce the city into a last-minute restoration agreement. It's happened before. But as opposed to Khan's antics at 2222 4th St N, this time there may have been a viable way to stave off demolition and restore the house.
Or what if the owner wasn't fighting demolition, but was going to come in at the last moment and salvage architectural features? Only then does he find out that his house was prematurely ravaged by the city. (Okay, that happened anyway, but here it has the distinction of happening twice.)
Either case would presumably open the city up to significant lawsuits, as the house was rendered almost beyond repair after the fire department had their way with it. Initially the Fire Department left when they were informed of Nicole Curtis' intentions to buy from a willing seller. But then they came back to resume their work and I am told they checked about authorization with CPED and not with the owner.
Look, I'm all for having a well-trained fire department, and a house primed for demolition seems as good a place as any to conduct police and fire training. That even happened at my own home during the purchase process. But in the first quarter of 2013 alone, there were already almost thirty properties (primarily in the northside) slated for demolition that were owned by the city or county. So why did the city pick this one out of all the houses that they already owned and could have put towards such a purpose?
Is it because this one had a willing buyer and seller, and could have actually been saved if preservation were really a goal that city bureaucrats valued? Do properties that could be preserved instead become fast-tracked for demolition? There I go with my foolish assumptions again.