Minn. GOP reaches deal with landlord to avoid eviction

  • Article by: BAIRD HELGESON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 30, 2012 - 10:03 PM

The party's announcement came the night before a court hearing.

The top official with the Republican Party of Minnesota said the party won't be evicted from its St. Paul headquarters.

The announcement came the night before an eviction hearing Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court.

"We have reached a confidential agreement with our landlord, Hub Properties, that will allow us to fulfill our obligation to them," state GOP chairman Pat Shortridge said in a statement Monday night.

Shortridge said the GOP's landlord will ask for a continuance at Tuesday's hearing, which will allow time to finalize the agreement.

A spokesman for Hub Properties Trust could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hub Properties served the GOP with an eviction notice for not paying more than $111,000 in rent at its longtime headquarters near the Capitol.

Last week, Shortridge tried to assure activists that the party would not be evicted and that the notice was an unfortunate bump along the road toward renegotiating the lease.

The Maryland-based owner of the building said in a court filing that the GOP had not made a full $6,881 rent payment since last April. The party made a few partial payments on the 7,340-square-foot office and call center and then stopped paying rent completely in August. The GOP signed its 10-year lease in 2003.

The threat of eviction was the latest blow for a state party recovering from $2 million in debt and other financial problems.

Former GOP Chairman Tony Sutton resigned late last year as party officials learned the party was far deeper in debt than first thought.

Sutton had defended the debt at the time, saying it was a necessary sacrifice for Republicans to win control of the Legislature for the first time in 40 years. Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson said last week the GOP did not know that the party had stopped paying rent when the executive committee agreed to begin paying Sutton a $100,000 annual salary in August.

Shortridge took over five months ago at no salary and immediately began slashing staff and expenses, while tightening up financial controls.

"While this is a situation none of us wants, it's part of the rebuilding process," Shortridge said last week. "No one ever said it would be simple or easy or without bumps along the way."

Baird Helgeson • 651-925-5044

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