Friday, March 27, 2009
A Furious Missive About The "Lost Victorian" At 3216 3rd Ave. S.
Photos By David Piehl
Here is an update on the "Lost Victorian" situation at 3216 3rd Ave. S., which I blogged about previously (click for article) because--despite the fact this is a South Minneapolis situation--it would be VERY DISTURBING INDEED if this kind of thing started happening in North Minneapolis and, further, it appears some citywide policy is being developed because of this situation.
Via a mutual friend, David Piehl sent me these great photos of the demolition and also an email missive dipped heavily in sarcasm, plus a side order of barely-concealed rage. I am printing it, below, pretty much in its original form except for a lot of paragraph breaks. (Which is, in a sense, too bad...because there's just something about writing all-in-one-long-unbroken-paragraph that also conveys a certain depth of feeling as surely as one's content)
David says as follows...
MHC came to the CANDO housing meeting and told us all how wonderful they are and all of the wonderful programs they have, at taxpayer expense, which largely duplicate what is available in the private sector, but without the hand-holding.
Then, the rep from GMHC (forgot his name) told us that they only got involved with 3216 3rd Ave S because Inspections had orders against the house, apparently for some unfinished siding, and was threatening the elderly couple who lived there with more fines and possible jail time.
CPED employee Earl Pettiford, who famously stated at a Central Neighborhood Housing meeting several years ago that "Only through new construction will the city be able to attract the suburban buyers it needs to stabilize the neighborhoods", then referred the low income, elderly owners of 3216 to GMHC.
A GMHC rep visited the house and saw piles of stuff on the porch, and throughout the house. He also noted that some rooms were not heated. This led him to the conclusion that despite original leaded glass windows, woodwork, etc the house would require close to $250k to renovate (and note that a similar house less than a block away recently sold for $250K), so the only option was demolition. GMHC graciously paid the couple $5,000 and then demolished their house.
Despite the fact that GMHC has for decades notified and worked with the neighborhood on new construction proposals, they contend that it simply never occurred to them that the neighborhood would want to know if a property were slated to be demolished...I'm sure that position had nothing to do with the recent Star Tribune articles surrounding the same neighborhood's intense effort to ensure that a house on Park Ave did not get demolished.
(JNS says: sarcasm font is broken, notifying the reader manually)
GMHC claimed that the Green Institute salvaged what was salvageable from the home; however it was duly noted by a resident that photos of the demolition carnage clearly showed 7 or 8 radiators in the demolition pit/former basement; antique radiators are very expensive, and the metal alone is worth recycling if the condition is questionable.
(JNS says: I would really like those photos, since I can't see any radiators in these photos FOR SURE. Looking around in "Where's Waldo" fashion, I can only spot what MIGHT be ONE radiator)
Council Member Glidden was also present, and reported that there is currently no neighborhood notification requirement on the part of CPED, but that they were now working on one.
(JNS says: in the sentence below, Piehl confusingly refers to himself in the third person, but this is indeed Piehl's firsthand account, which I verified with another source)
David Piehl reminded everyone that in the 1990's when Merwyn Larson was head of inspections, inspections had a neighborhood liaison per his direction who routinely gave the neighborhood 60 to 90 days notice of demolition intent, and honored neighborhood objections to demolition when alternatives were found, such as gap financing provided by NRP early access or HOMS Initiative funding, etc.
While this notification was apparently never required, it was the practice and served Central neighborhood well, resulting in several dozen homes being recycled for
owner-occupants and saved from the landfill. RT Rybak replaced the head of inspections with an attorney; so many things are different in inspections nowadays.
Several immediate neighbors expressed their shock at hearing the backhoe as it began working early that Thursday morning. One neighbor and former housing committee chair, Kori Hennessy, apologized to everyone present for not sharing what she knew about the demolition in advance, since her husband purchased the antique leaded glass windows from the house.
GMHC does not currently have a plan in place for the now vacant lot. Several area residents have expressed an interest in utilizing it as a community garden.
Sadly, the vacant lot is more likely to become the future site of a ghetto-fabulous GMHC house...you know, those plastic wrapped milk cartons put together with ticky tack that sport the lovely foam details?
Just why IS it that these GMHC houses always seem to end up in foreclosure rather than on the market?
Oh, and, now that in excess of $30,000 of our tax dollars were used to acquire and demolish 3216 3rd Ave S, not including all the staff time the city spent chasing down those renegade elders who dared to have unfinished siding and some bad updates, what now? The neighborhood is left with an empty lot, and what happens to the seniors who lived there?
$5,000 isn't exactly enough to start over.
(JNS says: the comments section is wide open to opposing points of view, including those of GMHC, CPED, etc. For the record, I have always had a very friendly relationship with CPED. I am also committed to publishing substantive commentary about neighborhood issues)
(I would like to add this, however: that yellow dumpster does not look like an "Atomic" dumpster to me. Atomic is very aggressive about recycling the metal in demolition debri, and based on some behind-the-scenes discussions, I was under the impression Atomic was the preferred waste hauler for these kind of local government initiated demolition projects, since Atomic is apparently the "greenest" choice. SO WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?!!)