Since reality TV star Nicole Curtis bought a rundown north Minneapolis house for $2, her tussle with the city of Minneapolis and some neighbors over its unfinished renovation has generated years of real-life melodrama.
Now the star of DIY Network’s “Rehab Addict” says she hopes 1522 Hillside Av. N. will be ready for occupancy by the end of August. The city, which sued Curtis’ company last year, settled and gave her until Tuesday to finish the renovations, says it’s scheduling final inspections.
In an interview Thursday, Curtis said the city has been receptive to devising a workable schedule. Now she plans to show the house by the end of August at an event that will also raise money for Backpack Project MN, a charity for homeless youth in the area.
“It’s finally starting to look like the old historical home that we always knew that it was and could be again,” she said.
However, the drawn-out renovation project has upset some residents, who have spent years hoping to see families in the Victorian house.
“This house has been vacant for so long,” said Amber Ortíz, a neighborhood leader who lives a mile from the house. “She said she could fix it and she hasn’t. Another rehabber could have finished this faster.”
So many come to the North Side promising change and when they don’t follow through, “it makes the work of all future people that much harder,” Ortíz said.
Curtis bought the property from the city for $2 in 2013 under contract to “substantially complete construction” within a year of the sale, court records show. In January 2017, the city sued Curtis’ company, Detroit Renovations, asking for the property back and alleging that she failed to redevelop it. Her lawyers said in court filings that disputes with the city halted progress.
In April 2017, the parties settled and Curtis agreed to complete the renovation by Oct. 15 of last year or forfeit it. The city extended the deadline to this past Tuesday. In a statement, Minneapolis spokesman Casper Hill said the city believes she’s made significant progress.
On Wednesday, Curtis held an event at the house to raise funds for a teen with cancer and to celebrate a new season of her show. Many from the neighborhood showed up, she said, bringing positive curiosity about the house.
But neighbor Kristy Johnson said it’s taken too long. Every time she walks by the house, she thinks of needy families who could live there.
“They should be going faster than what they’re doing,” Johnson said.
Lapricia Williams often visits her mother, who owns the home across the street, and was irritated by the “haunted house.”
“If you’re going to give someone the chance to hold onto something for that long, you need to give somebody else a chance too,” Williams said.
Curtis said most people want old houses to get fixed up, and they know how long and expensive renovation projects can be. Those upset are fueled by miscommunication and misunderstanding, she said, but it doesn’t bother her because she knows the impact she had.
“It’s still standing,” Curtis said. “And I don’t care what anyone says. If it wasn’t me that had decided to take on this house, it would have been in a landfill a long time ago.”