Saturday, July 6, 2013
Khan Wins Ruling on 2639 Oliver Ave N, Demolition Stayed
If Mahmood Khan put as much effort into screening tenants, or fixing his properties, as he does into paying his attorneys to fight the city of Minneapolis, the northside would be a better place. Instead, demolitions that are all but inevitable get tied up in court for years on end, and in the meantime Very Bad Things continue to happen at Khan properties throughout our community.
As a die-hard preservationist, one part of my credo is to never hold the owner against a property when determining whether a structure is worthy of rehab and continued use. Khan tests that ethic more than anyone else. I hear through the grapevine that some of the features inside 2639 Oliver are quite nice--amazing, even. But as long as Mahmood Khan owns the house, none of that will matter. If he really was serious about preservation and rehab, he would have entered into a restoration agreement with the city long ago. Although he doesn't do such a great job of keeping those either.
In any case, a judge reversed the demolition order on this property, and all I can say is thank God the court opinion is "unpublished" and can't be used as a precedent. Although just as surely as we know this won't be the last of his houses with a demo order, we know damn well Khan will now try this trick again. The ruling, although wrongheaded, does have some interesting points. For instance, it states...
..."Relator argued that with the tornado and subsequent vandalism, the house required approximately $200,000 in uninsured repairs."
Uninsured. Why does it not surprise me that Khan doesn't carry insurance on at least some of his properties? I wonder, if there is a loan against that house, or if it was included in a line of credit similar to Paul Koenig's former slumlord empire, wouldn't a lack of insurance be grounds for a default on the loan? If Khan has such a loan, that could be a chink in his armor right there.
So the city received a restoration agreement from Khan, with the requisite $10,000 bond, for $143,000 in repairs to be completed in six months' time. During the process of deciding whether to accept this restoration agreement, the city looked into Khan's history. He has made five prior agreements, and failed to meet the terms or the time frame on all five (although he did eventually meet the terms of four, just not in the time required). This is not a man who keeps his word.
Based on that well-established and well-documented track record, CM Don Samuels made a motion that this restoration agreement proposal be denied. The city also researched Khan's history of property (mis)management and (lack of) maintenance, and apparently used those findings at the council level to deny the rehab proposal.
One city department, for the record, did recommend the restoration agreement be accepted. That was the Nuisance Condition Process Review Panel. The Regulatory, Energy, and Environment committee of the council recommended against that decision, and the council as a whole upheld the REE's findings.
But because the NPCR never reviewed Khan's miserable history of property management and restoration agreements that neither restore nor are agreements, his attorneys successfully argued that the REE could not use that information in their determination. Nor, for that matter, could they consider the multitude of community complaints against Khan for the dilapidated state of his properties and the misery his tenants inflict upon our community.
So on those technical grounds, Judges Hudson, Schellhas, and Stauber reversed the decision to demolish. Not that it's going to change whether Khan actually does anything here. Ironically enough, there are a series of Dutch colonial houses next door, two of which are on the city's chopping block. Both could possibly be saved if the post-rehab resale value were high enough. Sitting next to this shell of a property brings down that value to the point where these two (city-owned) homes might be torn down before Khan's legal wranglings are untangled.
When will Khan's rental licenses be revoked? He can't be shut down soon enough.