It was almost a year ago that the Minneapolis City Council stepped in to save a house constructed in 1893 by master builder Theron Potter Healy.
But that was a Council election ago, and Friday, by an 11-2 vote, a body with seven new members voted 11-2 to let owner Mike Crow demolish the 15-unit rooming house at 2320 Colfax Avenue South.
Crow claims that despite the publicity the demolition dispute has caused, no one, other than the developer, has come forward with an offer to buy the house a stone’s throw from 24th & Hennepin.
However, Nicole Curtis, HGTV’s Rehab Addict, told reporters that she made a cash offer for the house of $400,000 last spring and again earlier this week. She said she also offered to move the house at a cost of $100,000.
“People live in this city because of the history. We just approved Indigenous [People’s] Day because we support our history, and yet we just voted to tear it down,” said Curtis following the council action. “I don’t understand how you can do that. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand.”
Publicity stunt or not, Council Member Blong Yang — who along with Lisa Goodman cast the only vote against demolition — said, “From last year’s council vote until today, my understanding is there was an offer. Even if it wasn’t in the form of a purchase agreement, it was a verbal offer that was made.”
One of the key things that changed from last year was a council more committed to density; another was that last year’s Council Member, Meg Tuthill, opposed demolition, and her 2014 successor, Lisa Bender, voted for it. That earned Bender brickbats from Curtis’s legion of social media followers.
Council Member Elizabeth Glidden — who voted a year ago to block demolition but this time voted to raze the building — stated, “This is not a decision about the city ordering a demolition. This is about the rights of a property owner who has said this is what he wants to do with the property.”
The property is a designated historic resource, which means it is believed to have “historical, cultural, architectural, archaeological or engineering significance” as spelled out in the city code of ordinances. It has not been upgraded to historical designation as a landmark.
There are currently more than 100 Healy houses in Minneapolis, many with historical designation. At a hearing on the new application for demolition, city staff said the property lost integrity following a fire in the 1980s and major interior remodeling.
Historic preservationists said the damage was not enough to send 2320 to the dumpsters.
“The Council Members’ rhetoric about the city does not match their actions,” said Anders Christiansen, a student of Healy houses. “So we’re going to displace 25 low-income people, get rid of their homes, we’re going to not listen to the neighborhood which does not support this project.”
Added Christiansen, “We’re going to support a developer who never appeared before the neighborhood. We’re going to support a landlord who didn’t fix up his property and benefits.”
Christiansen said he expects to challenge in court the decision to move ahead with demolition: “I am in it as long as the building is standing.”