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City can demolish north Minneapolis apartment building

Posted by: Alejandra Matos under People and neighborhoods Updated: June 2, 2014 - 5:15 PM

A north Minneapolis apartment building that’s been vacant since it was damaged by a tornado in 2011 could soon be facing the wrecking ball.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the City of Minneapolis can forge ahead with plans to demolish the building, which has been at the center of a long-running battle between its owner and the city.

In its ruling, the court rejected Mahmood Khan's argument that the city's decision to demolish the building was arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable. Khan, the building's owner, also argued that he was not provided due process before the decision was made.

In an interview Monday, Khan said he had no comment because he had not reviewed the court's opinion and had not heard from his attorney.

At one point, Khan owned 50 buildings in Minneapolis' north side. Some have gone into foreclosure or faced demolition. In 2012, city records showed Khan's houses had racked up at least $112,654 in citations and vacant-building fees that he has paid, been assessed for or had pending against him. Those buildings had 712 police calls in the last 18 months. In 2012, police also rescued two runaway teens working as prostitutes in a house Khan owned.

The city ordered that the 11-unit apartment building at 2501 Golden Valley Road N. be demolished after telling Khan for two years that he needed to repair the building. The city stayed the demolition multiple times to allow Khan time to settle an insurance claim, get an assessment from the Historical Preservation Commission and get funding for the rehabilitation project.

But in April 2013, Council Member Don Samuels asked the City Council to strike down the stay of demolition because he said he spoke to developers who told him that Khan was asking for an unreasonable amount for the property's sale, and that rehabilitating the building was economically infeasible.

According to court documents, Samuels opined that there would "be no possible way" for Khan to rehabilitate or sell the property during the six-month stay. The City Council then voted unanimously to demolish the building immediately.

In an attempt to stop the demolition, Khan argued to the Court of Appeals that the City Council acted arbitrarily and capriciously for considering what Samuels brought up at the meeting.

The court said that Khan's argument had merit because "Samuels brought up evidence outside the administrative record." But the court said that did not require the Court of Appeals to reverse the city's decision.

The record indicates that the council would have acted reasonably by demolishing the building immediately, without imposing a stay, regardless of the complained-of hearsay report by Samuels," the court said.

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