Thursday, August 20, 2009

Contractors Scramble to Bid on Demo of Uncle Lennie's

Photo by John Hoff

by Jordan Neighbor
JNS Guest Blogger

More news received at the JNS International Headquarters:

Contractors have scrambled to have the privilege to demolish Uncle Lennie's building, for almost next to nothing. Yesterday, at a meeting of the city's PSRS Committee meeting, a bid was accepted to demolish the building for a mere $40K. Here's a link to the city's website and some wording from the committee meeting minutes:

11. Bid for Demolition of 2426 Plymouth Av N:OP #7180, accept low bid of Landwehr Construction to accomplish demolition of 2426 Plymouth Av N ($39,992). (Refer to W&M/Budget)Staff report: Demolition Bid RCAAction Taken: Approved

I say yesterday must have been a GREAT day for Uncle Lennie, who I am sure is taking a sigh of relief and wiping his sweaty brow. You know, cause instead of costing him $80K-$100K for demo, it looks like it will only cost him about $40K. That's a HUGE savings in these hard economic times.

(Do not click "Read More" but Do stay tuned to JNS for more breaking news in the future - revitalization will NOT BE STOPPED!)


Anonymous said...

It's too bad that picture doesn't show the knee-high weeds on the boulevard, which is apparently the kind of special "landscaping" that the neighborhood can expect from Uncle Lennie's. If he can't pay the demolition bill, I hope that the property goes to the city, which at least cares enough about the neighborhood to mow the lawn occasionally.

Jordan Neighbor said...

To Anon@920 -

Thanks for the tip on the weeds - I'll see if we can dispatch a JNS field correspondant and capture some images of the weedy mess - STAT!

Sarah Maske said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Maske said...

PS I don't use blogger anymore. I use my own at ;)

Don Allen said...

Do you really understand what your talking about?

Jordan Neighbor said...

@ Don Allen

I am pretty sure I understand what I am talking about - but just in case, is there something you want to explain to the reader audience?

As always, the comment thread is open to all sides of a story.

Anonymous said...

Don Allen: Now that Lennie has let it slip that the mysterious "discount" source for all the food to stock Uncle Lennie's shelves is Cub Foods (btw, is that even legal? I was unaware that Cub Foods was a wholesaler), please explain how Uncle Lennie's wasn't always planned as a convenience store--especially when you put a nice ring of weeds and junked furniture around it, like he's already installed. Does Lennie even know the meaning of "health food store" or "co-op"?

Anonymous said...

The proper way to say it is "Do you really understand what YOU'RE talking about?"

It kind of undercuts your (or should I say you're) credibility when you insult someone else's intelligence and then use improper grammar in so doing.

Unless of course it's because you REALLY like irony.

Anonymous said...

Unless I'm missing something, the crux of the real issue (at least with those bloggers that defend Lennie's "plan"), is whether or not, because Lennie is an African American, he should be held to different (some might say preferential) treatment) standards.

So, let me get this straight. In a distressed neighborhood that's already filled with blight, there are those that would say the social "experiment" should go on. Is there some new "acceptable level of collateral damage" doctrine that's been implemented in NOMI that I am not aware of? Some belief that says that regardless how hair-brained "the plan" might be, if the person that proposes it is african american, that the whole community should buy-off on the plan?

What about the countless hundreds of young african american children that WILL be affected if they too are forced to grow-up in an environment that is similar to what the former owners of the property fostered?

Does Lennie's right to be given a "chance" regardless of how unproven his plan is, out-weigh the rights of the rest of the citizens in the community?

Don Allen talks about the fact that "black people aren't given a chance". Well Don, Lennie has his chance. Just like anyone else. He has his chance to bring-forth a REAL plan for redevelopment. HE has chosen to not do this. Don't blame it on NOMI.

Let's get something straight Don. I am a Republican squirrel. I believe in free-enterprise the same as you. However, my fellow squirrels have been subjected to the "blind-eye" policy that's been propogated in NOMI far too long.

All the squirrels I talk to want african americans to succeed just like you do. However, we've also learned to exercise the wisdom necessary to smell a "rotten nut" through the countless "well-intentioned" failures that we've been subjected to over the last twenty some-odd years.

If you want to support a meaningful project, find something other than "Uncle Lennies" to throw your weight behind. I want ot believe in you, but you keep betting on losers.

The NOMI Squirrel

Anonymous said...

I have a crush on the NoMi squirrel!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me where anyone regardless of color can get a job in north Minneapolis similar to the major corporations in the suburbs? Where does everyone who work in north Minneapolis, such as the Urban League, Northpoint, the New UROC center, go for lunch? Maybe afterwork happy hour with co-workers? Maybe catch breakfast meeting? As wild as Lennie Chism plan is, it appears it address needs that people will spend money easily to satisfy - provide jobs and beautify the neighborhood. Does anyone of you have answers to the above questions - my kid needs a job in a year and he will not be going to college. Oh, and we don't have a car - which i I was catching 3 buses to get too? Hey where do you guys work? Hiring?

MeganG. said...

@ Anon211pm

You mean to tell me that Lennie has disclosed that his food for the health food store will come from Cub??

Can you provide more details? Like, where and when did Lennie share this info (or let it slip) - and what sort of arrangements with Cub, the throw away food or what??

Waiting for more info...

Jordan Neighbor said...


Our great 5th Ward Councilmember Don Samuels helped to close a deal with Coloplast, a huge international medical supply manufacturer and distributor. They built and opened a huge headquarters building right on the river in North Minneapolis. They have agreeements with the city to provide jobs to the 55411 zip code.

Also, off the top of my head, I can think of Cooperative printing, Kemps, dozens of retail establishments, not to mention the city itself: parks, schools, city crews.

Good luck to your son in his job search, I know it's extremely tight market out there now - not just in 55411 but in the whole world.

The Mortgage Geek said...

One of the things we've done in Hawthorne is to bring in Summit Academy OIC and have their students to certain kinds of testing and training on houses that will be torn down - you can punch holes in walls for insulation testing and not have to worry about patching them up again, for instance.

We're trying to be intentional about training NoMi residents for the jobs that will be coming to our community. But timing people's education and qualification with the job market itself is an inexact science at best.

I will say, though, in terms of Lennie's plan, just because we could use more jobs here, and we could use more food options, that doesn't make that building, that site, or his proposal legitimate.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have more information that Cubs might be closing? Not profitable. There is a new Rainbow Food in St. Louis Park. If Cubs closes, hey wait... Megan G. when is your store opening...?

Margaret said...

I am surprised that Lennie didn't bid to demolish his own building.

MeganG. said...

@Anon 1146pm

Where's my store? What store? I never promised or proposed a store to anyone. See, I'm wise enough to know that I should stick to the things that I do and do them well. So if there is any new property management company springing up around here, let me know and I might submit a resume.

Anonymous said...

Those sincerely interested in supporting getting a viable place to buy healthful foods in the neighborhood should contact the Harrison Neighborhood Association and join in the Wirth Co-op project. Unlike Uncle Lennie's boondoggle, the Wirth Co-op is a serious, viable, and honest project.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Bills became a problem when a *NRRC wanted this - Karamu West, a housing and commercial project in North Minneapolis that includes a bus transit stop in its design.

Oh, the project failed. Google Karamu West, a 52 Unit Mixed-Use Development that was to be located at Penn and Plymouth. Transit Oriented Development (TOD)

* Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC)

JNS readers - call Jackie Cherryhomes, George Roberts, Sherrie Pugh, Mayor Rybak, Don Samuels

Opps.... JNS didn't know bout that huh

Foreclosure crisis and the Karamu West failed.

I know I was one of those who thought it was a good idea too.

I was wrong. Were getting just another vacant lot.

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Harrison, the Co-Op has not a chance. Not a site, the corner of penn and glenwood the owner is in bankruptcy, the penn glenwood market owner is not interested, and the former Asian grocery store new owner is not interested. And with the new Rainbow in St. Louis Park off 394, a beautiful project, the idea is DEAD and pipe dreaming more than Uncle Lennie

Anonymous said...

Anon: 11:46

"If Cubs closes, "

. . . there goes Uncle Lennie's "discount food" supplier. DARN!

Anon: 8:46
Wow, as a resident of Harrison, perhaps you should actually start attending the bi-weekly Wirth Co-op meetings (there are two active committees you can join--general planning, or marketing) and stop spreading misinformation (not to mention actual lies) about the great things happening in your neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Margaret Said:
I am surprised that Lennie didn't bid to demolish his own building.

The NOMI Squirrel says:
Margaret, even an uneducated NOMI Squirrel knows that if you're original plan was to sue the city to begin with, the very worst thing you can do is to bid on the demolition of the building you plan to sue them for.

I spoke with Lennie at great length one day not too long ago. I asked him how he was going to fund the start-up of what he was proposing. He couldn't tell me. I asked him who his tennants would be. He couldn't tell me. I asked him how much it would cost to renovate the building. He couldn't tell me.

I can only surmise that there never was a plan for turning this derelict building into a thriving business. I mean cripes, I stopped storing nuts in there about two years ago because I was afraid the building would fall down.....

Anonymous said...

I am not a supporter of the demo for the simple reason is if Councilperson Don Samuels could not find a suitable tenant, then I feel that our community has lost. A good store would capture the money within our community if we do have a responsible store owner that is willing to work to improve our community. Isn't that the real issue. Our community has not been able to attract businesses to WHO. Thus, we have nothing but vacant lots where we should have shops like Uptown. So the negatives which may or not be valid with Uncle Lennie, does not change the fact that we live in a community needs a store along with other businesses. The other council members will always vote to destroy our community because we take our money to theirs for dinner and drinks. How do others feel about that.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:06 said:
I am not a supporter of the demo for the simple reason is if Councilperson Don Samuels could not find a suitable tenant, then I feel that our community has lost. The other council members will always vote to destroy our community because we take our money to theirs for dinner and drinks. How do others feel about that.

The NOMI Squirrel Says:
Since when is it the responsibility of the council member to find suitable owners of store-fronts?

I have cousin squirrels living in some of the suburbs. Many of the businesses indentical to what Uncle Lennie is proposing for that property have either failed, or are in trouble of failing, because of the current economy. And that's in communities with WAY more disposable income than NOMI has.

HOW is this CM Samuels fault? Do you know how much more it costs to provide the adequate security, the theft-loss prevention and ongoing maintenance (including the grafitti removal) in NOMI as opposed to if the busness were located in a more affluent suburb? I hate to think how many nuts it would cost....

You can only attract good and respectful commercial tennants, if you're able to show them that there's something worth coming to NOMI FOR...

Hence the reason myself and many other squirrels have started a movement to clean-up NOMI. And don't confuse clean-up with gentrify. Many of my cousin squirrels don't look like me.

The NOMI Squirrel

Anonymous said...

Several reputable buyers (at least one that I know of who has gone on to successfully develop other NoMi properties) have looked at the building, and when they crunched the numbers, it just didn't add up to be realistic to restore the building. What everyone is ignoring is that the building does not just require "some clean up" as Lennie so blithely and ingenuously asserts, but it has major structural issues (it is currently held together by metal rods running through the building, which you can see emerging from the front of the building, bolted down to metal plates). This is the basis on which it was condemned in the first place. What NoMi needs are thriving, well-planned businesses, not scattershot, fly-by-night stabs at businesses that fail and leave a trail of destruction behind them.

Anonymous said...

So, now that we have a vacant lot it appears - what do yall we suggest for Uncle Lennie to do with the lot?

Anonymous said...

Borrow Mr. Slummy's backhoe and dig a huge pit. Then every time somebody gets a harebrained, incomplete idea for north Minneapolis, they can come by and chuck the plans in the hole. It will fill up in no time!

MeganG. said...

LoLz @ Anon 939!!

haha LMAO!

that was a good one!