The 1978 suburban split-level home was so wrecked that the owner, and then the bank, walked away from it.
Now Coon Rapids is left to clean up the mess.
In a rare move, the city will tear down a Carter-era home that was first abandoned by its owner and then the bank that held the mortgage note. Crews could start razing the house in the next few weeks, now that an Anoka County judge has signed off on the demolition.
Workers removed asbestos from the house on Monday in preparation for the work.
“It’s not anything anybody wants,” said Gregory Brady, Coon Rapids’ chief building official. “It’s a tough problem to solve.
“It’s unfair to the neighbors. It attracted so much attention. You see a boarded-up house. That is a negative image. All these other people are doing their due diligence and taking care of their property. One is languishing. You have to take action.”
Many suburbs, including Coon Rapids, have introduced a series of carrots — home improvement programs and grants — to promote neighborhood investment while wrestling with aging housing stock. But sometimes suburban leaders also resort to using a stick — often stricter code enforcement, sometimes even demolition.
It’s taken the city five years to get to the point of razing 9910 Linnet St., in a neighborhood near the Mississippi River and Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. Officials said forfeitures are rare, and then usually it’s for a much older home.
The windows are boarded up. The roof is leaking and deteriorating. Crews found that raccoons — some alive, some not — had taken up residence in the furniture and personal items. The refrigerator and freezer were filled with rotting food.
Neighbors had complained for years. “They are happy it’s going away,” Brady said.
On Monday, the pungent odor of rot could still be detected outside. Word had spread that the house could contain some valuables, resulting in four break-ins in the normally quiet neighborhood.
The city first declared the property uninhabitable in November 2011 and contacted owner David Siusta.
“I was trying to work with the property owner to see if I could avoid going to court. At the end of the day, I had to do it,” Brady said.
Siusta missed deadlines for cleaning up the property. He would speak with city officials by phone, but declined to give his new address. Neighbors and city staffers said he had stopped by the house to pick up some items. He could not be reached for comment on this report.
“He’s a nice guy,” Brady said. “It was just stuff overload. It looked like he had good intentions. He had a lot of collectible things — baseball cards and old board games. He just had so much of it, it’s crazy.”
Finally, then-Mayor Tim Howe signed a resolution ordering the razing of the “hazardous building” in October 2014.
The city determined that Siusta had a mortgage on the home that he had stopped paying in 2014. Lawyers for TCF Bank, which held the mortgage, initially filed a lawsuit seeking to collect the $178,984 Siusta owed. But they dropped the suit after speaking with city officials and touring the property.
Brady said it’s exceedingly rare for both an owner and a bank to wash their hands of a property in a stable neighborhood.
“We got ahold of the bank and brought them into the picture. The bank had gone out and done their own evaluation. They determined it wasn’t worth the effort. They rescinded their interest in the property,” he said.
When the city sought a court order to raze the house this year, Siusta didn’t respond to the court filings.
After bulldozing the house, the city will remove the debris and foundation and fill the lot with soil. The demolition could cost $25,000, and city officials hope to eventually recoup some of that.
Siusta owes $22,415 in delinquent taxes dating to 2011. Under state statute, the property is forfeited to the state after five years of delinquent taxes.
“If these taxes remain unpaid, it will forfeit in the spring or summer of 2017,” said Pam LeBlanc, Anoka County’s director of property records and taxation.
The property — what will be a vacant lot — could then be sold at a public land sale. Any proceeds from such a sale would then be allocated back to the taxing jurisdictions including city, county and school district.
“Typically it’s not a huge moneymaker. The objective is to get [the property] back on the tax rolls,” LeBlanc said.
Very few homes end up forfeiting annually, she said.
Neighborhood residents said that while they hate to see someone lose a home, they are relieved the city is addressing the problem.
“I am happy to see the house torn down. I think it’s a safety hazard,” said next-door neighbor Diane Miller. “It’s an eyesore. It devalues everyone else’s home.”
Neighbor Dan Fryman said he’s witnessed the break-ins: “It needs to come down.”