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Continued: St. Paul starting to consider the trend in teardowns

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 15, 2014 - 10:15 PM

Peterson said that his workers pass out business cards to neighbors and encourage them to call about problems. Dumpsters are parked in front of the work site, not a neighbor’s house, he said.

“We’re homebuilders, not home wreckers,” he said. “Our goal is to get the property completed as quickly as we can.”

‘Too big, too tall, too wide’

Custom Renovations builds on property already purchased by clients or investors, Peterson said. Up to a third of its housing projects are presold, he said, while the balance are built on spec for investors. The houses adhere to St. Paul’s single-family house standards, which limit heights to 30 feet and the house footprint to 35 percent of the lot.

Tolbert said the houses going up in Highland Park are “bigger, but a large portion aren’t McMansions. They’re not hanging over lots.”

However, the one next door to Jane Weis blocks the afternoon sun, which is important to her. She’s a painter. “We’re looking at a wall,” she said. “It’s too big, too tall and too wide.”

Weis, who lives in a “Victorian farmhouse” near Eleanor Avenue and Syndicate Street, said she’d like to see St. Paul declare a teardown moratorium similar to Minneapolis’.

“People come to these neighborhoods to live in smaller homes,” she said. “If we don’t stop doing this, there won’t be any left.”

Mary Klauda, a consultant, said her next-door neighbor’s house was torn down in November after he sold it for $239,000. It was replaced by a new house twice as big and listed at $539,000, she said. She thinks a limit should be placed on the number of houses that can be torn down per block — perhaps no more than three out of 20.

Alongside “the mansion next to me,” she said, “my house looks like the gardener’s house. Like the hired man lives there.”

Kevin Duchschere • 651-925-5035

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