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.


  1. An attorney should file a Data Practices request for the file on this house.
    A Data practices request also needs to be filed to get the list of all houses to be demoed in the City...which is not the same list as the 249 list.

    A meeting should happen with the neighborhood assn. and everyone who wanted this house to survive with CPED and certain City get to the truth of this matter if that's possible.
    So, so interesting to see the video and see a street that had NO VACANT lots. What does that of the things it means is what it means in South Minneapolis where suburban builders are buying "too old" and "too small" houses in locations where there are lots of prospective homebuyers looking for a BIG suburban style house.

    So even though whoever wants to build on this lot had plenty of vacant lots to build on...the thought here is a street with vacant lots is a "less desirable" place to live where they'd get lower sale price for the house they are going to build.

    And WHO is going to build on this lot...Habitat for Humanity? Sounds like they've had a major mission shift and can call themselves Habitat for PROFIT and UPSCALE buyers.

  2. Another in a pattern of rogue behaviors that our community leaders and mayor can't seem to get a handle on.

    Is it any wonder so much of our tax dollars go to settling lawsuits?

    Wonder what goes on behind closed doors?

  3. Startribune reported that there was no buyer / seller negotiation and that they couldn't even find the seller. Are they lying? Someone named Laible stated that. Here is the url

    1. That may have been a pseudonym for "liable" because thats what the City official who stated this will be when the owner steps forward.

  4. No wonder they can't collect on assessments.

    If the City can't find the owners of these properties, Maybe it's time to change some policies so they can do a better job of protecting the good neighbors who are trying to maintain our community.

  5. That Star Trib article was bizarre. The reporter didn't report on very much of the information that she had at all. Yes, the owner was contacted and agreed to sell. A price was set. There was a seller and a buyer. I know because I was directly involved. The problem was that 26K between back taxes and assessments were the barrier towards making the rehab feasible. The city was not willing to work with us on waiving those. The request to do so came directly from the neighborhood organization. Hennepin County indicated that the property could also be obtained through acceleration of tax forfeiture, but the city would have to request this - they chose not to. Additionally, internal emails indicate that Regulatory Services told the city council that the neighborhood position was for demo. The neighborhood put out TWO position letters calling for the city to NOT demo and work on a plan towards rehabilitation. The immediate neighbor was the loudest advocate for preserving the house and the "whistleblower" reporter wouldn't even return her phone call. Ultimately, I was contacted by multiple council members telling me they would like to have intervened, but to stop a demo, Regulatory is only going to defer to the CM of whom ward it is in. This one was in Diane Hofestede's ward. The "whistleblower" lady was fully aware of this and told me that she wouldn't publish anything negative about Diane because she had a positive interaction with Diane on an issue a number of years ago. What does that have to do with this house? I wouldn't call her column whistle blower at all. Whistle blowing isn't when you have information and don't tell it. So bizarre.

    - Brian Finstad

  6. By the way, Khan won his appeal on stopping the demo of his building on the 2600 block of Oliver, so now it will sit there for a few more years as a total eyesore!

  7. Isn't this the same media organization that is currently selling vast amounts of prime real estate to the City?

    What did you expect?

  8. So...A reporter let her personnel relationship with a public official alter the facts in an investigative report?

    Where is the Star Tribs journalistic ethics?

  9. This isn't the only home that has been Pre-prepped for demo before being officially sanctioned by the Community and our legislative process. Any number of Vacant homes on the Northside have had the walls smashed in and the Utilities disconnected in anticipation of a demo order BEFORE those directives have been authorized.

    This one is more visible because it was given to the Fire department to very publicly smash up (most likely as an FU to Nicole Curtis who had a buy/sell agreement and has been publicly giving the City a drumming for their backwards policies).

    This should lead the public to ask - Where is the paperwork for the agreement for the Fire Department to demolish?

    How hard is the City trying to sustain our community housing?

  10. Ryback never gave a damn about our area. We are treated like children and his record is proof of that. He has already proved that he can't get elected to the next level and never will.


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