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The final episode: A TV drama
The house did not go quietly, as it turns out.
The host of DIY network’s “Rehab Addict,” Nicole Curtis, entered the picture in February when Brian Finstad, Curtis’ acquisition project manager, sent an e-mail to a city official expressing an interest in buying the property from Laine.
“But after we realized the significant back taxes, assessments, and [vacant and boarded house] fees, we had to rethink our strategy,” Finstad said. He and Curtis say they proposed other options and shortly after the Fire Department began its training exercise on Wednesday, Finstad unsuccessfully tried to get it halted.
In the end, the city had no right to make a deal with Curtis, according to Laible.
“Ms. Curtis is a private for-profit developer who has no legal financial interest in this property,” Laible said. “City staff have never been informed in writing that anyone has acquired or is close to acquiring the property.”
“We had no owner. We still can’t even find the owner. If we had heard from the owner and he said, ‘Hey, I’m having such-and-such go in and do something,’ we would have paused,” Rivera-Vandermyde said. Whistleblower could not reach Laine last week.
The demolition went forward.
Demolition: A timely issue
In recent years, people have become more concerned about the demolition of houses, said Elizabeth Glidden, council member for the 8th Ward in south Minneapolis. Glidden said she was thankful to Curtis for rehabbing a house in her ward. The lot, too small to allow for off-street parking, likely would have remained forever a vacant lot if the house had instead been torn down, Glidden said.
“I’m happy to have the discussion be sparked about the broader policy arguments on what is the city of Minneapolis’s role in preservation versus demolition," Rivera-Vandermyde said. "I think there is a place for both of them in our worlds,” but, she added “sometimes the cost-benefit just doesn’t lend itself to that.”
In the case of 3738 Dupont Av. N., a city inspector estimated that repairing the home would cost between $60,000 and $87,000 and the estimated market value of the property was $23,500 in 2013. That’s barely twice the cost of demolition, $10,458.90, which will be added to Laine’s property taxes come January.
Jane Friedmann • 612-673-7852