Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Round of Hennepin County Tax Forfeitures

It's that time of year again, where seasons may change but the risk of tax-forfeited properties being sold to slumlords does not.  A nineteen-page list of Minneapolis tax forfeitures was recently sent to neighborhood groups from the city of Minneapolis.  Credit where credit is due:  I've been critical of the city's policies surrounding vacant houses, but they've been a good partner on tax forfeitures.  Specifically, we used to get lists with only a few days to respond with neighborhood organizational positions on what to do with these houses and vacant lots.  The city really went to bat for our communities with the argument that this simply wasn't enough turnaround time.  Now we have until November 26th to submit comments.

The Jordan neighborhood has roughly two dozen such tax forfeitures, although for the purpose of this and subsequent blog posts, I will focus only on houses and not vacant land.  As I took a look at each Jordan property, like 2122 Ilion Ave N pictured above, I came to two conclusions.  There wasn't a single one I'd tear down (except the one that was already demolished by the time I got there), and there wasn't a single one I'd consider an acceptable slumlord acquisition.  So it's time to put our city and county government on notice:  We are watching how this process plays out, and it better result in a better north Minneapolis.

Jordan has a baker's dozen tax-forfeited properties with structures on them.  Twelve, technically, but the thirteenth was an arson-damaged home that was torn down after the list was generated.  Aside from the Ilion house, we have...

2730 West Broadway, an occupied single-family residence.  Most occupied properties tend to remain in the hands of the original owner.

Here we have 2625 Lowry Avenue North, which is across the street from a house owned by Proton Investments, where I had an interesting interaction with sign spammers.  So this one better not wind up as another Proton or similar slummy acquisition.

2756 Queen Avenue North is next, a single-family home that recently went vacant, and what's this I see?

To the untrained eye, this sure looks like the house is already having its utilities disconnected--even though no demolition permit appears to have been pulled yet, and even though no neighborhood position has been taken yet as to whether demolition is supported here.  2756 Queen sits on a smallish lot with two other houses on postage-stamp-sized parcels between it and the alley.  I blogged about why both of those houses should be saved, but never thought this one would be the first at risk for a teardown.

A similar situation played out at another city-owned vacant structure at 3015 Morgan Avenue North, where utilities were disconnected prematurely and the community stood against demolition.  Recently one of our non-profit partners expressed interest in that property and it looks like the Morgan house will be rehabbed.  More on that in a future post, but the relevant point here is that something similar may be playing out at 2756 Queen.

2926 Penn Avenue North is a vacant (for now) single-family home that is just begging for a slumlord to come along and convert this into a duplex.  Let's not allow that to happen.

2651 Logan is unremarkable but certainly would not be improved by a slumlord or a vacant lot.

2626 Logan is a cute little bungalow that I wish I had a better picture of.  I was able to peek inside, and the woodwork looks decent as well.  I can just picture some demo-happy person claiming that the overgrown weeds-turned-trees shown above indicate insurmountable foundation issues that necessitate tearing this place down.

Be still, my beating heart.  3000 James is downright gorgeous.

2959 Knox is a property that was identified as occupied.

1124 24th is a corner duplex on 24th and Fremont.  And like it was said on the TV show The Wire, "Control the corner and you control the block."  The city's comprehensive plan takes a similar approach, and corner properties have more strategic importance, especially on community corridors.

1712 Hillside Ave N wins the award for most architecturally interesting house on our list.

And the photo tour concludes with 2444 Logan Avenue North, a vacant multi-unit structure.  This one is on a corner lot and is at least a duplex.  If it falls to the likes of Khan or Meldahl, it will be just another cash cow for them.  If it's put in the right hands for a rehab, this house could be transformative for the block.

In case I can't get to a photo tour of all northside tax-forfeited structures, here is the rest of that list:

3314 Bryant Ave N
3301 Oliver Ave N
1626 Oliver Ave N
2312 Upton Ave N
915 Queen Ave N
1222 Penn Ave N
3522 Aldrich Ave N
3243 Fremont Ave N
3239 Fremont Ave N
3331 Colfax Ave N
704 31st Ave N
2115 Bryant Ave N
5111 Logan Ave N
3600 Penn Ave N
3753 Aldrich Ave N
3255 Upton Ave N
3515 Dupont Ave N
3245 Fremont Ave N
422 30th Ave N (the brick house)
2515 3rd St N (Mr. Slummy's ill-fated hotel)
2222 Emerson Ave N
712 Elwood Ave N
3418 Fremont Ave N
2945 Lyndale Ave N
3210 4th St N
2909 3rd St N (arson-damaged, cat-lady feeding grounds, still salvageable)
5127 Irving Ave N
3319 Oliver Ave N
2823 Bryant Ave N
615 33rd Ave N
2732 4th St N
2200 Dupont Ave N
1600 Oliver Ave N
1601 Morgan Ave N
1921 Queen Ave N

Some of these homes may be beyond repair.  None of them should be sold to known or aspiring problem property owners.


  1. Nice Homes! What is the City/County doing to locate developers and investors to return these homes to owner occupancy?

    1. That's precisely the problem; the county doesn't much care if they sell to slumlords, even if the net long-term cost is a drain on tax dollars. And the city has NO process in place to engage with private investors of any sort.

  2. More homes John Hoff can pretend to inspect, when he is actually stealing the interior wood to burn in his stove.

    1. What? I've been in John's house. He doesn't have a wood stove.

    2. He wrote in his blog that he did. Even wrote that he took wood from condemned homes. There was quite a discussion about burning lead painted wood too.

  3. I think posting this does nothing but encourage scrappers and thieves.

    1. I've been doing such posts of photo tours of vacant properties for YEARS. I've yet to hear of one instance where a property was damaged as a result. Scrappers and thieves have their own way of casing vacant houses and don't come here for information.


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