Saturday, August 8, 2009

Big Worries Over Fate Of 2510 4th St. N. (Will Jonah Get Swallowed By The Whale?)

Photos By John Hoff

First of all, Hawthorne Housing Committee meetings are open to the public. I happen to be the secretary of the committee, and I took notes at the Wednesday night meeting, but these were handwritten notes and I turned over my only copy. (Computer issues, don't wanna get into it) So everything that I'm now writing and recalling is from my role as an observer at that meeting. Having said that...

Jonah Bridger seems like a nice man. He says he used to be an army corpman and served on the U.S.S. Mercy. He says he's from George. I make a point of saying "he says" because, really, very little he says can be independently confirmed and there is ample reason for doubt and worry, given what Jonah says.

Jonah says he's getting ready to buy an 11-unit apartment complex (pictured above) at 2510 4th St. N. for a mere $60k. He plans to live on-site as the apartment manager.

Has Jonah ever owned, renovated or managed something like that before? Jonah says he doesn't have much "recent" experience and mentions that his father--now sadly quite ill, and apparently a resident of the Twin Cities--used to be quite a slumlord. But Jonah says we should have FAITH in him. We should give him the benefit of the doubt and BELIEVE in him, as evidenced by the fact he came to our committee in the first place to talk to us...right before he's all set to buy the building.

Oh, did I mention the building has been vacant for so long that it has lost its variance, and the only way it can be an apartment building again is if the city would approve? So, it would appear, the opinion of the neighborhood is very important to the future of that building.

Jonah reminds me of two differnt people. First, he reminds me of slumlord Bashir Moghul, who has an ability to be very polite and make all the right kinds of noises at neighborhood meetings, but when you look at what he actually does, Bashir is part of the PROBLEMS of North Minneapolis, not part of the SOLUTIONS. He's a slumlord, plain and simple. Click here for an example of Bashir's outrageously bad slumlord behavior, documented in a HUD news release.

Jonah also reminds me of Lennie Chism with his big dreams of renovating the old Uncle Bill's store, without really saying how, specifically, he will come up with the resources to pull that off. Lennie just keeps talking about the need to engage in positive thinking and believe in Lennie. So Jonah reminds me of Lennie, though thankfully Jonah has enough humility not to make constant comparisons between himself and the great men of history.

A more important point: the building in question looks like a wreck from the outside, so who knows what it's like inside? Jonah told the committee all the pipes had been ripped out and pointed out how, my word, something like that must have taken DAYS. Where were THE POLICE, he wondered aloud? Why didn't somebody CALL?

The other day I went to 2015 4th St. N., in the rain, and rainwater was pouring off the flat roof and down two sides of the building like the structure was a whale with blow holes.(See photos) Is this building going to be the whale that financially swallows Jonah?

If the building has rain gutters, they didn't appear to be working as the water running down the walls has soaked the boarded-up windows. This has apparently gone on for years. Water must be all in the walls along those areas where it drains so badly. You really have to wonder about toxic mold.

I wonder if Jonah is listening to the voice of reason or just some woo-woo mystical voice in his head which is saying something about how this "feels right." Heaven help our neighborhood. We have suffered enough from slumlords. I, for one, prefer to draw a line in the sand and say there is NO WAY I'd be in favor of seeing any variance granted to that building. If you think THIS blog post is harsh, trust me that you have not yet seen harsh, click here. To use a metaphor somebody might understand after serving on the U.S.S. Mercy: this is just a shot across your bow.

Hopefully, Jonah will get hard estimates on required work and really consider how difficult it would be to procure the zoning variance. And then, hopefully, he will cut his losses and walk away from the table rather than get into something way, way over his head. I sincerely hope so.

One interesting thing to note: the bottom photo shows how close the apartment building is to "Mr. Slummy," the guy building some kind of residential monstrosity which he claims will NOT be a rental property. I've written about Mr. Slummy quite a few times, click here for an example of the ongoing horror.

I can't help but think how CONVENIENT it might be to have all the bad rentals concentrated in one spot.

Oh, wait. We already TRIED that in Hawthorne, and it wasn't convenient at all, click here.

Never mind.


Anonymous said...

Jonah needs to be realistic- the two buildable lots 2510 sits on aren't worth $60k, plus the cost of tearing down the apartment building. BTW, you might want to look at 2515 3rd- that OSB monstrosity took in quite a bit of water in the recent storms. There's puddles on the floors... that thing's gonna rot out before he ever gets the mortgage paid off.

Also, do you have wheels at the moment? I can give you a ride if you want to check out these places.

Anonymous said...

1) Earth to slumlords: in case you haven't heard, North Minneapolis is no longer the designated free for all zone for the city. We now have the same high standards that the rest of the city does, which means that the burden of proof is on you to convince residents and city officials that you have the experience, financial resources, and ethical backbone to do what you say you will do.

2) With all the lovely historic homes and fourplexes in NoMi, someone wants to try and save this dump? It was a hideous, flimsy eyesore even when it was new. What reputable buyer would want to have anything to do with it?

Jordan Neighbor said...

Earth to slumlords: in case you haven't heard, North Minneapolis is no longer the designated free for all zone for the city.

That's right folks - spread the word far and wide - we even have some city officials who are now willing to LITIGATE the fact that NoMi is no longer the free for all zone it once was.... God Bless those city officials and let's be sure to get out there, volunteer our time and our money to get these brave city folks RE-ELECTED so they can continue to make strides for our community.

Anonymous said...

Not to play devils-advocate, but if this guy has never been a slumlord, how can you honestly paint him to be one? Because he is willing to take on a problem in the neighborhood that has existed for years?

Did anyone else step up to the plate?

If the building is in that need of repair, it sounds like you will have time to discern whether he is the kind of person you assume him to be, or not. My point is, don't turn this into a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure for the guy simply because you assume the worst.

Johnny Northside said...

As a matter of fact, PPL was getting ready to step up to the plate and do something about this building--fix up or tear down--but Jonah apparently managed to get there first since PPL moves "at the speed of government."

I figure that Jonah's speed had something to do with misplaced faith in his ability to fix the building. In fact, he didn't take the time to research the lack of a zoning variance!

I'm not the only one expressing serious concern. Don't give me this self-fulfilling prophesy crap. Like the Jonah of yore, this Jonah is in way over his head. If he's smart, he'll walk away from that building even if it means losing earnest money.

But I think Jonah prefers to listen to the mystical woo-woo voices in his head instead of the voice of reason.

Anonymous said...

I just check the city property database and Jonah has paid about $1200 for a code compliance inspection. He clearly is in over his head...


North Common Sense said...

That's right Johnny. YOU get to decide who should or shouldn't set up shop in NoMi, whether it be a potential resident, landlord or business owner. How does it feel to wield so much power?

How did we ever get along without you and your creepy neighbors? How did I buy a house, raise a family, send my kids to Northside schools, watch them play sports in our parks, belong to a church community, shop at local grocers and clothing stores and make a lifetime of friends? How did we ever do it without you or your permissions?

Let's just snoop around and 'investigate' EVERYONE who wants to purchase a property. Let's dig up as much dirt and sling it around as we can.

How long have you lived here again? Where did you ever get the idea that you were the solution to all that ails us?

Maybe you should run for city council. Canvass all day long. Knock on as many doors as possible. Listen for once, instead of shooting off your mouth. When you hear that your obsessions are not everyone else's, will you be satisfied that you do not represent the Northside like you think you do?

Rhetorical question. People like you never seem to get it.

The Mortgage Geek said...

This is one area where John and I disagree, at least somewhat. The gentleman who bought this property may or may not be in over his head. One thing he did admit to missing was the zoning variance issue. I've explained to him that the neighborhood will be very cautious about granting that variance again.

The reason for such caution is that if we grant it and then the new owner puts in problem tenants, there's nothing we can do for a very long time to undo the zoning variance. If the owner gets the variance and then decides to sell to another person who winds up being a slumlord, the variance is there. We can address rental licensing issues, but once the variance is granted that becomes quite difficult to take away.

This person has been coming to Hawthorne meetings and saying a lot of the right things. That immediately puts him on better ground than the slumlords who don't even bother having constructive dialogue with the neighborhood. John claims he wants to make sure the variance is never granted. I say let him come forth with his rehab and management plans, and proof that he's got the wherewithal to make such plans successful. If he can do that, then I'd like to see a desire to invest the right way in Hawthorne be rewarded with some cooperation from our neighborhood and the city. If his plans don't meet muster, then a vacant place is better than a problem property.

North Common Sense asks who John is that he has a say in such matters. He is a member of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council board and housing committee. Granted, he's the only member with a widely-read blog, but his activism on those committees gives him that voice.

Johnny Northside said...

I have taken a hard line on this issue--both in my role as a blogger and in my separate, distinct role as a committee member--but I would be VERY VERY interested to see what kind of plan Jonah puts forth and, yes, I do have an open mind that is capable of being changed.

However, I'm making it known here and now in advance (solely in my role as a blogger) how incredibly, deeply doubtful I am of Jonah based on things I've seen so far:

1.) The condition of the building, based on what is known and said AND what I can see from the outside, which is very discouraging, its known and notorious history and the price being asked for the building. At least Lennie Chism paid $3,000 for a wreck that needed to be torn down; a relative bargain.

2.) Jonah's ADMITTED lack of recent experience and really nothing of substance on record during that committee meeting about where he will get the resources to fix this place up, etc.

3.) My perception of how Jonah fits into that troubled part of the neighborhood--right near Mr. Slummy, etc.--and all the grief our neighborhood has already endured from slumlords, some of which say they mean well (Smithrud) or make the right noises in a committee meeting (Moghul) or appear to have mysterious resources and connections, (Haymon)but our neighborhood always gets screwed hard. (Khan)

Jonah seems like a very POLITE individual and it is not pleasant for me to be critical and harsh with him, but I don't see his ill-conceived plans as being good for the neighborhood AT ALL, and that's much bigger than Jonah's precious widdle feelings.

Jonah should invest $14.95 in a big fat self-help book and get in touch with his father/son issues instead of being mysteriously "drawn" to this rotting white whale of a building, woo (expletive) woo.

And, by the way, it was Jonah who made his touchy-feely ill and dying former slumlord father issues a matter of public record during public discussion so I feel perfectly free to address and critique THAT.

My neighborhood is not a blank white canvas for you to work out your psychological issues, Jonah, at least NOT IN THIS PARTICULAR WAY. God knows I work out my father son issues all the livelong day, but the collective judgment of a fairly large-sized group of people is that this has been for the ultimate GOOD of the neighborhood.

I haven't--oh, for example-- tried to buy an 11-unit apartment complex in tough shape and said, "Believe in me, I'll figure out a way to fix it!"

"Believe" in you? Jonah, who are you talking to? Are you talking to the sane, rational members of a neighborhood housing committee or are you talking to some ghosts of childhood memories? "Believe in you?" You've already said aloud all I need to know: you're "drawn" to the building and you "can't quite explain" why.

Jonah, do the sensible thing and WALK AWAY FROM THE WHALE instead of letting it swallow you because of being mysteriously "drawn" to it; like a moth to a flame.

Anonymous said...

John has a voice, but any child can scream; it doesn't mean it bears a logical train of thought or warrants our attention.

Its easy to jump to conclusions and grasp at straws to validate the prejudice, crucifying people by supposition and innuendo, but what does that say of someone willing to shoot first and ask questions later?

Although John blogs a LOT, using his ridiculously biased rhetoric in an attempt to 'safeguard' the community, what does he really do to help anyone? Does he have a job or, as evidenced by Dyna, does he even have a car? Or is he just the proverbial parasite of the neighborhood, justifying his self-worth by tearing down everyone else like some NoMi inquisitor?

He has been listed as a 'student' in his blog as long as I can remember; perhaps he needs to ad Grammar 101, Journalism 101 and Logical Debate 101 to his next curriculum. Because the erroneous arguments, and keyword links to cutesy YouTube videos only serve to paint the picture of an idiot with a plethora of opinions...

Johnny Northside said...

Thank you for drawing two things to my attention: my profile needs updating and I should have politely told Dyna not to worry about me, I have wheels and I have productive work that I enjoy.

Shouldn't you be talking to me through your attorney? Or, oh wait, you sound a whole like like you ARE opposing counsel. Should you be talking to me AT ALL?

Margaret said...

There is nothing wrong with raising questions about this stuff. There is also nothing wrong with a guy taking a crack at becoming a rental property owner, with a property in a low income area where he can get a cheap building. The problem is whether he has the resources or the knowledge to be anything other than a slumlord. There are slumlords who are slumlords by design (they don't care about their tenants or the neighborhood and take every cent they get from rents and section 8 as a cash machine) and there are slumlords who are just clueless about what's required to be a landlord (or run a business)and don't maintain their properties or handle their tenants well. It shouldn't matter to the neighborhood WHY the building is a problem, only that it IS. And the city shouldn't care either.

Anonymous said...

I think that you should give this man a chance to rehab this apartment building and try to improve this neighborhood. If everyone jumped to the same conclusions that it seems some of you have then i dont think that much would get done to improve the living situation. It was suggested that lower income persons or section 8 housing was what type of "persons" would be living in this building. He never said in the meeting, that I recall, that he intended to try to get approved for these programs. Would the people in the neighborhood prefer that Jonah tear down the building and build a luxury apartment or how about a HUGE eyesore house and surround it with 10 foot hedges and have a few guard dogs so that all the "knowledgable" people that cant seem to show an ounce of support for neighborhood improvement can sit outside and make assumptions of what he may be doing?