Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Mysterious Death At 2222 4th St. N. (JOHNNY NORTHSIDE BLOG EXCLUSIVE DETAILS About The Miserable, Run-Down Property In Question)
Photos By John Hoff
For some reason, none of the media is willing to state the specific address of the run-down, decrepit dump of a property where a woman's body was found recently, click here for the story as told by WCCO.
I'm familiar with...
...the house in question. In fact, I once called 311 on the house for having no address number visible on the front exterior, and then a big green "2222" mysteriously appeared shortly after that on the board over the front door. Well, better than nothing, I guess.
Not A Gas Leak After All
Actually, Jeff and I drove past the crime scene while it was being processed. This was some time after the news crews had left, apparently, or before they all arrived. Even though both ends of the alley were blocked off, I didn't think much of it. I figured there was yet another gas leak from crackheads stealing copper pipes, because the fire department's procedure of blocking both ends of an alley looked similar to what I've seen before with these North Minneapolis gas leaks.
A house might explode. Shrug. Well, guess I can't cut through the alley.
The next day, I read about a woman's body being found in the garage, frozen. (So frozen one media outlet said she'd have to "thaw" before the autopsy took place) Some emails flew around the neighborhood. Michael Klick had heard gunshots on Sunday night during the snowstorm, and he couldn't help but think it might be connected to the woman's body being found in the garage.
"In Extreme Disrepair"
If the city's online property records are current--and you could break bones tripping over such a big "if"--the owner of the property is somebody named Mahmood Khan, whose address is listed at 2972 Old Highway 8 Roseville, MN 55113. So if the media are reporting the "owner" of the property came out to check the place, and found the body, then one assumes it was Mahmood Khan who found the body. (Unless the house has been sold to somebody else and the city's records just aren't up-to-date, which is common)
On September 25--the very day of the Hawthorne Annual Meeting--there was a meeting at City Hall regarding this property. (One supposes the meeting may have involved other properties, too) The meeting was held by the Nuisance Condition Process Review Panel. Board members, an assistant city attorney, and folks from inspections (including good ol' Wayne Murphy) were at the meeting, and so was Mahmood Khan, representing himself.
The board found as follows: 2222 4th St. N. is a two-family home in the Hawthorne neighborhood. The (garbled) story structure was built in 1900. Each unit has four rooms, including one bathroom and one bedroom. The building is 1,623 square feet. (...) (On all three floors)
The property is in extreme disrepair. There are 27 open housing orders on the property, most as a result of the Code Compliance Inspection conducted in April, 2008. The basement is moldy, there are holes in the walls, water damage shows on the ceilings throughout the house, kitchens and bathrooms have been trashed, the copper has been stripped and the roof is substandard.
The inspections department found the estimated cost to rehab the building is $129,843 to $234,372 based on the means square foot estimate. The assessed value of the property in 2007 was $147,000. The 2008 assessed value is $70,000. The Preservation and Design Team staff didn't find the property worth preserving.
The Hawthorne Area Community Council (the former name of HNC) and property owners within 350 feet of the property were mailed a request for a community impact statement. Three were received, all of which said the house had a negative impact on the neighborhood and should be demolished.
How We Got Into This Mess
Yong Yia Vue purchased the property on December 1, 2005. The property went into foreclosure and a sheriff's sale was conducted on June 20, 2006, with Deutsche Bank National Trust as Trustee for AMC Mortgage Services submitting the highest bid. The redemption period expired on December 20, 2007, and the property was put up for sale "as is."
On July 17, 2007, the property was condemned for being a boarded building and added to the City's Vacant Building Registration. The property has remained vacant and boarded since that time.
On April 1, 2008, a Code Compliance Inspection was ordered and paid for by Kyle White, the realtor attempting to sell the property. On June 25, 2008, the current owner, Mahmood Khan, purchased the property.
A Notice Of The Director's Order to Raze and Remove was mailed on July 23, 2008 to AMC Mortgage Services, Inc., Young Yia Vue, Kyle White, Vang Phay, Argent Mortgage Co. and Shapiro, Nordmeyer and Zielke.
On August 19, 2008, Mahmood Khan filed an appeal indicating "Code Compliance, will be brought up to code by licensed contractors."
On September 22, 2008 Mr. Khan sent the Department of Inspections an estimate to rehabilitate the property at a cost of $100,000 but was unable to meet with staff to discuss a restoration agreement detailng the proposed rehabilitation including timelines for completion.
Mr. Khan stated at the hearing that he plans to convert the building to a single family home with hope to provide housing to low-income families. Mr. Habib Moghul spoke on the owner's behalf and indicated he has seen the owner do good work in rehabbing other houses in the city.
(...) The city of Minneapolis found evidence, "including but not limited to neighborhood impact statements, clearly demonstrates that the values of neighborhood properties have diminished as a result of deterioration of the subject building" and also "rehabilitation is not justified when compared to the after rehab resale value of the building."
Recommendation to Raze upheld by the board.
Observations By "Boots On The Ground"
I was giving Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes a ride to pick up his newly-repaired vehicle, and I took a detour to 2222 4th St. N., now clear of police and gawkers...though plenty of ribbons of crime scene tape were left hanging all over.
I advocate making that stuff out of corn starch polymer. My little Green Party plug, here, for a small public policy tweak to help the environment.
The "garage" in question is small. It appears to be one of the many old "carriage houses" which dot the back yards of North Minneapolis. The garage had been newly re-boarded with an official, gray board. A couch was near the garage, with a blue crime scene latex glove on it. It seemed as though the couch may have been hauled out of the garage. The cushions of the couch were missing. If the body was on the couch, then I figure these cushions were taken along with the body for some kind of analysis...though Jeff speculated the corpse may have been frozen to the cushions.
Of course...we don't really know if the deceased person was on that couch or not. But what's up with that big missing chunk of hand rest?
The house is a monstrosity. You can't really call it a duplex, despite an odd, engraved metal sign declaring "THIS IS A DUPLEX." Jeff had never seen anything like that sign, and wondered what was the point. The house seemed to be a small gray stucco thing which had some kind of horrible addition added, then pranced around shrieking, "Look at me! I'm a duplex!"
I note the findings of the City of Minneapolis went out of its way to avoid use of the word "duplex." Some kind of legality is a-simmering, here, or was at one time.
Paint Cans In The Mail Slot
Properly acting under the City of Minneapolis' publicized mandate for responsible citizens to "adopt" vacant and neglected properties, I wanted to see if any letters were stuck in the mail slot, so I could shove that stuff further into the house to help thwart mail fraud. That was when me and Jeff found the front porch was full of paint cans...waist high, it appeared, piled up just beyond the mail slot in the front porch. Who knew how many, but probably a lot. Jeff said the place was being used as a "dumping ground."
I noticed some of the vinyl siding had been pried upon...just enough for somebody to find out it was vinyl, not aluminum. Windows were missing on the second story, allowing blowing snow to enter the house.
This house is a monstrosity. I would like to think something like this incident would change the mind of the owner about trying to rehab it, but it's pretty hard to transform the hardwired slumlord mindset: nothing a coat of paint won't fix.
The proceedings against this house should move from back burner to front burner. But I think most residents are just wondering: how did this woman die? And if it was foul play, who did it? And who was she? Those are answers we're still waiting for...while she, um, thaws.