'Rehab Addict' calls for rehab of Minneapolis' home demolition process

11:24 AM, Jun 6, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn -- Minneapolis resident Nicole Curtis, host of the show "Rehab Addict" on the DIY network and HGTV, is calling for change and transparency in the city of Minneapolis' home demolition process.

She's fighting what she calls a lack of public notice when it comes to home teardowns. Curtis says she tried to buy and rehab 3738 Dupont Avenue North in North Minneapolis, but then discovered the 1907 home was slated for demolition. Wednesday, Minneapolis firefighters tore down parts of the walls and roof for training experience, before the home is demolished Thursday.

"It could have used a good cleaning, and a $3,000 roof patch, and a new family could have been living in this house," said Curtis. "There was no neighborhood hearing on this. We have been trying to get transparency with the demolition process. And there is none. I have been in constant contact with the city about buying this house, and at no point did someone say, they are going to come in and demo it."

At least one City Council member agrees with Curtis. Gary Schiff, who represents Ward 9 and is running for Minneapolis mayor, says demolition permits aren't usually shared with the public, but should be.

"The city of Minneapolis can work more for the rehab of properties," said Schiff. "If the city approves a demolition permit, it can be appealed, but nobody knows it unless the demolition has been advertised."

Schiff points to a South Minneapolis home on Bloomington Avenue saved by a Hennepin County home rehab program after the city of Minneapolis was going to tear it down.

"Instead of rushing with a "once size fits all" demolition first approach and examples like this show we can rehab a home when we take time and come up with ways to do that," he said.

The city of Minneapolis says records show the Dupont home has history of disrepair. Spokesperson Matt Lindstrom says the city has been working with the property owner for three years after that owner abandoned the home.

In a statement, Lindstrom says the home was condemned after extensive water damage, and city staff found tornado damage and more than 20 code violations.

"It's estimated that the cost of repairs and rehab far exceeded the market value per Hennepin County," said Lindstrom.

Curtis says she inspected the Dupont home personally and sees potential, just as she does in many homes the city has slated for demolition.

"What we are doing now is spending city funds which come from taxpayers to demo houses that should just be left standing. If this house was left standing it would be a benefit for our city because we would get tax money out of it," said Curtis.

The city of Minneapolis contends that home demolitions are rare.

"Demolition is always our last resort because we know that Minneapolis' housing stock is one of the factors that makes our city such an attractive place to live. We have more than 89,000 housing properties in the city and our residents and property owners do a fantastic job of maintaining those properties. Of all those properties, there are currently only 10 that have reached such poor condition that they have been slated for demo," said Lindstrom.

Lindstrom says the condition of the Dupont home is so poor added that many neighbors in the neighborhood association wanted the home to be torn down.

But Curtis is adamant, where the city often sees an end, she sees a beginning.

"I am not an HGTV star, I am a house preservationist and a community activist which means I am trying to change the demolition process with the city. I'm not trying to save one house, I'm trying to save all these houses. The greenest way to re-stabilize our city is to reuse the homes we already have," she said.

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