Edina's negotiations to buy a dry-cleaning business at 50th and France to make room for more public parking have been extended as the city tries to acquire the property without using eminent domain.
If negotiations — now extended to Dec. 18 — fail, the City Council has voted to condemn the building, a move that has ignited fury among property-rights advocates and customers of the now-retired couple who own the building.
A new complication recently surfaced: The attorney for property owners Soon and Jenny Park said someone has approached the couple about buying the building at 3944 W. 49½ St.
"We are working with a third party who we believe will have a better offer [than the city], and I assume we will strike a deal," said attorney Jim Yarosh. "It's in process, and nothing has happened."
In September, the Edina council voted to use eminent domain to acquire the Parks' building after trying unsuccessfully to buy it for a year. The Parks closed their business in May and had planned to remodel the building and rent it, saying that the property was a prime asset to fund their retirement.
The couple emigrated from South Korea in 1975, raised two sons here and bought the Hooten Cleaners property in 1993.
Edina City Manager Scott Neal said the city's plan would be to raze the building and build a new structure that possibly could have retail on the ground floor and room to expand an adjacent parking ramp above.
The city is open to discussing use of the first-floor space with the Parks, Neal said.
"We had offered to discuss options with them, where they maintained some retail use on the ground floor and we used [rights to the second floor and up] to construct public parking," he said. "If the city can … increase the supply of public parking spaces at 50th and France, we are still open to that."
Neal said the Parks have not responded to the city's most recent offer, which includes payment for the property as well as such costs as paying for a lawyer, a Realtor and any lost rental income.
The city's offer is part of ongoing negotiations and is not public now, Neal said.
In September, officials said that the city had made a purchase offer based on an independent appraisal and that the Parks had countered by asking for three or four times that amount. Hennepin County records show the estimated market value at $549,200, but city officials say its appraisal was higher than that.
Yarosh said the Parks are exploring their options. He would not identify the possible buyer.
"We have to see what kind of a deal comes forward," the attorney said. "It's no different from the city — we've been approached, and we're in negotiations. We're not sure what their plan is."
But legally, the city appears to have the upper hand. Neal said that if the property is sold, the city still could move to condemn it. Or, he said, the city could discuss cooperative development, as it has with the Parks.
The discussion period before condemnation proceedings begin was extended from 60 days to 90 days at the Parks' request, Neal said, and it could be lengthened again "if things are going the right direction and both parties are interested."
The two sides are supposed to meet on Dec. 18.