Edina backs away from condemning dry-cleaner building at 50th and France

  • Article by: MARY JANE SMETANKA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2014 - 3:58 PM

Another party wants to buy the property at 50th and France for more than the city is willing to pay.

The city of Edina has dropped a controversial attempt to condemn a building at 50th and France to expand parking in the area.

The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to end plans to use eminent domain to acquire the former dry-cleaning building owned by Soon and Jenny Park at 3944 W. 49½ St. Their decision followed word that the Parks have been negotiating with another party who wants to buy the property for more money than the city has offered.

The Parks’ attorney, Jim Yarosh, said Wednesday that he welcomed the council vote.

“It’s nice to have that threat over, but is it gone forever? We don’t know,” he said.

Yarosh said he thinks the Parks will get a deal done on their property, “but we’re not quite there yet.”

He declined to say how much the city of Edina had offered for the property, which housed Hooten Cleaners until the Parks retired last spring. City officials could not be reached for comment.

Parking in the 50th and France area is tight, and the city has been looking for ways to add more. The city was interested in the dry-cleaning site to expand an adjacent parking ramp and perhaps relocate a municipal liquor store.

Edina had tried to buy the building for a year before voting 3-2 in September to start condemnation proceedings.

It was the first time in a decade that the city had tried to use eminent domain.

Even council members who voted for condemnation seemed to have mixed feelings about the move, and the vote raised protest from friends and former customers of the Parks and from property rights advocates.

In an effort to reach an agreement with the Parks, the council extended the precondemnation negotiation time into December. The city offered more than the fair market value appraisal, including reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs the couple had incurred when they planned to lease the building to another business.

Then came news of a third party, about whom no details have been made public, that was interested in the property and apparently willing to pay more than the city. Council members said the finances of acquiring the building no longer worked for the city.

Yarosh said that at the moment, the Parks still own the building.

“I think we’re close, but we do not have anything signed yet,” he said. “We hope to soon.”

Yarosh indicated that he thinks the future of the building is still uncertain. If a new business wanted to go into the building, the city probably would have to approve those plans through permitting.

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380

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