Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Danna D III Foreclosure Tour

Guest post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I've been getting rather obsessive-compulsive about getting photos and distributing information when someone passes along a list of properties. Hopefully that's a good thing for the rest of NoMi, but it's been keeping me very busy. Today's tour was of properties formerly owned by Danna D III, which were foreclosed on between January and June of 2009. I'd like to point out that I could be sure about how comprehensive this list is, and include other currently owned properties, if regular citizens could search public records with the property owner as a search criteria.

I know that most, if not all of these properties are no longer owned by Danna D III, and that in all likelihood these predatory investors are out of the game in Minneapolis. But I did wonder what has happened to these properties? What are they like now? Who owns them, and how quickly were they resold? Was there a primary lender behind this? (I do know a fair amount of Danna D III properties used money lent by Highland Bank, but did they perpetuate the problem or were they victims of fraud themselves?) To the extent these questions can be answered, what does that tell us about this type of foreclosure and its neighborhood impact?

What I found out was...

All but one of these properties (perhaps two) were purchased using money from Highland Bank. Perhaps Highland was complicit in Danna D III's activities or they're a victim of that fraud as well - probably something in between. But by and large, the properties were in far better condition than I'd anticipated.

I remember hearing buzz at the city earlier this year that Highland was entering into an agreement with the city about managing a large chunk of foreclosed homes. JNS readers are encouraged to fill in more details as they're known, but since most of the properties in question are in respectable shape, I'm going to say that this partnership has been more successful than not. Highland may have contributed to the Danna D III mess, but they're doing a fair job of helping to clean it up, and that's more than you can say about most lenders.

Clicking on the address will bring you to the city of Minneapolis website for each property. The next link brings you to the Hennepin County foreclosure website. When pertinent, I've also included photos of the houses.

1. 4653 Bryant Ave N had its redemption period expire 7/28/09 and is now owned by Highland Bank. The property appears to be occupied.

2. 3953 Dupont Ave N had its redemption period expire 7/28/09 and is now owned by Highland Bank. The property appears vacant although a close inspection of the door makes it clear that there have at least been attempts to break in.

3. 3955 Emerson Ave N is still owned by Danna D III, although the redemption period expires 12/28/09. Highland Bank will be the proud owners of this gem in short order. Since the sheriff's sale occurred in June and the property looks like it's been vacant for longer than that, one wonders why the lender did not accelerate the redemption period to five weeks? Damage to the door makes it look like squatters have at least attempted break-ins. This is also the first property to have a blue lockbox, but from the looks of many of the others, I'd guess Highland Bank bought these in bulk specifically to deal with Danna D III.

4. 3858 Sheridan Ave N is still owned by Danna D III, but Highland Bank will have this property by 11/30/09. I spoke with a neighbor who said that the place has been vacant for about a month, that the previous tenants were problem tenants who had loud parties and urinated along the side of the garage. Why am I not surprised to find that Danna D III didn't do such a hot job of screening tenants?

5. 3750 Queen Ave N will be owned by Highland Bank on 12/28/09. This property appears to have been vacant for quite some time as well.

6. 3456 Penn Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/22/09. This property appears to be occupied.

7. 3354 Penn Ave N has been demolished, and its redemption period expires 12/9/09. At that point, Western Bank (not Highland this time) becomes the owner.

8. 3530 Morgan Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/22/09. This one looks very nice and appears to be occupied.

9. 3530 Logan Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/29/09. It also appears to be occupied and fairly well-maintained.

10. 3609 Logan Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 8/5/09. This is one of those houses that's about the size of a loaf of bread, and set far back on a small lot. It's not clear if it is currently occupied.

11. 3126 Thomas Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/28/09. It looks vacant and probably needs some work before it's livable.

12. 3026 Thomas Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/23/09. This house also appears vacant.

13. 3710 Girard Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/22/09, and condemned for lack of utilities on 8/4/09. This house looks quite nice, and I'm guessing that Highland Bank added this little touch:

14. 3251 6th St N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/23/09. This is an odd one that brings up a question similar to what happened in Hawthorne earlier this year. The top unit is currently occupied by a tenant who thankfully is "lawyered up." He spoke to me and said he knows he's in limbo but is letting his attorney handle that.

The bottom unit, though, is clearly in disrepair, as evidenced by the fact that the last time anyone stopped by to do work, they left both sacks of sheetrock and a case of beer. Care to take a guess as to which one they used, and which one they left behind, unopened?

And a bit of helpful advice to Highland Bank, from a neighborhood that's dealt with these issues: closing off a porch is always a bad idea.

15. 2818 Aldrich Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/29/09. It's hard to tell if this one is occupied. Kids on the street say people live there, but the "Jesus saves," door hanger clearly doesn't apply to the earthly condition of a property.

16. 2321 4th St N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/21/09. It's been boarded as of 9/21/09, and a phone book sits moldering at the foot of the property. A boarded octagonal window in the back of the house indicates that this property may have at one point had some character. Slumlords like Danna D have probably sucked much of that life away, and it's unclear whether anyone is both willing and able to restore it.

17. 2941 Fremont Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/28/09. The structure information on the Minneapolis website lists this property as a duplex, but it's got to be a painfully small one at that. This one that I'd hope Highland Bank converts back to a single-family residence. Oh, and Highland? The garage is open to trespass. It doesn't appear that anyone is using it for illicit activities but winter's coming and it's only a matter of time if this is left unaddressed.

18. 2935 Queen Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/23/09. This one appears to have a rental license, but if it's occupied then I have to wonder what kind of TLC they're giving it.

19. 2659 Queen Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/21/2009. This one is vacant and has a notice posted that it is for sale by Keller Williams Realty, and a for sale sign out front gives a Highland Bank number to call.

20. 2648 Russell Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/21/09.

21. 2031 James Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/22/09. Like the previous two properties, this one also has a sign posted to contact Keller Williams Realty if interesting in purchasing the property, and that it is not for rent.

22. 1723 Girard Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/23/09. This house appears to be occupied. I'm going to just come right out and say this, and if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I did NOT get a good feeling about this house. Sheets hanging in the window are, in my experience, very often a bad sign, and there was a group of people out front who were giving me very unfriendly looks as I was taking this photo. I've had this feeling and received those looks before, and it's never been associated with anything good. MAYBE I'm wrong here, but JNS readers, please comment if you know anything about this property.

23. 1112 18th Ave N lists To-Ha Nguyen as the owner on city records, but county foreclosure data indicates Danna D III lost it to Highland Bank on 7/29/09, and no sale has taken place since then. The property is vacant.

24. 1301 16th Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/22/09. This one's front door was wide open and someone was upstairs watching television. On a lesser scale than the Girard property, this combination did make me wonder about the tenants and the rental license.

25. 1418 Logan Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/28/09. No other owner of record is listed, and neither is a rental license apparent on the city website. However, lights on in the house and neighbors' accounts indicate the property is occupied.

26. 1514 Thomas Ave N has been owned by Highland Bank since 7/21/09. A "Clifford the Big Red Dog" toy sits forlornly in the front yard.

27. 2700 Morgan Ave N needs no introduction for JNS readers. Highland Bank has owned this property since 7/21/09. Hopefully it will be torn down soon.

28. 120 1st Ave N - I did not have time to get photos of this property and it is a condo or multi-unit structure, so public records are too numerous to verify which unit Dana D III owned.

29. 1008 29th Ave NE shows up on city records as owned by Highland Bank, but not on county foreclosure data. I also did not get photos of this property.

Take a look at that last number. That's TWENTY-NINE properties lost to foreclosure in SIX MONTHS. I'd love to sue the pants off of the Danna D crooks, but my guess is they've got nothing left to repay us for the damage they've done to our neighborhood.


Anonymous said...

3955 Emerson is in my neck of the woods. That's an interesting property. It was owned by investors prior to Dana D III who did a terrible job of managing it. Those investors had other problem properties in the city and so they had all their licenses cancelled for 5 years and so 3955 Emerson, among the others, fell into foreclosure. From foreclosure it was purchased by Dana D III. As far as I know, the locks on the house were not changed until Dana D III took over, so former tenants were letting themselves into the property on a regular basis until that time.

After it was purchased by Dana D III, they had to clean that house out, and the contractors hired said that the house was a complete mess. The contractors claimed that the new owners (Dana D III) were Russians. (Not that it matters, nor is it likely to be true, it just adds to the color of the tale.) They also said that they were getting paid 40k to clean the house out. Given that they filled up 2 full size dumpsters, I don't doubt that. There were also supposedly dead cats in the basement.

To my knowledge, this house has never been rented as long as Dana D III has had it. I think it would be an interesting story in itself why that was the case.

My understanding is that this house has never been converted into multiple units, and so it would be great to get this into the hands of owner occupants.


MeganG. said...

@AKL - I do believe Dana D company has russian principle owners. Like you said, not that it matters.

40K to clean out/trash out the house???? I can't imagine that unless there was also some level of carpentry/rehab work along with it. Or.. of course.. mortgage fraud. Sort of like $5K paid to someone to do what??? clean? hang new windows that never get hung???

BadWims said...

Hey Jeff -
If you're interested in more about Danna D, I did a piece about them back in March

While I was researching that piece I also found that 9 Gregge Johnson properties had recently gone into foreclosure

Anonymous said...


I know that 40K is a lot of money to pay for a cleanup, and I have no idea if there was any repair/rehab work done on the inside. I know that there was a lot of activity around that house when it was first purchased by Dana D III, and it was ongoing for weeks. Neighbors claimed that the clean up crew initially wore face protection and full coveralls and boots, so I did wonder at the time if there was perhaps a sewer problem or something similar. Either way, I hope that at some point a thorough inspection is done of the property.


The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

@ BadWims:

Yes, it was indeed your article and a few conversations we'd had shortly before or after it that really put Danna D III on the radar screen for me. Then another person sent me this list and I got on a kick where I wanted to continue doing these "photo tours" of slumlord properties to raise neighborhood awareness.

But journalistic credit where journalistic credit is due; that story was what "broke" it here. Thanks.

Brandon said...

I Just sold 3710 Girard to a first time home buyer that is very excited to move! I have met the guys that have rehabbed the property and they have done a fantstic job. They also bought the two behind and they are looking to purchase and rehab the property directly to the south of 3710.

Johnny Northside said...

Turns out 1514 Thomas Ave. N. was also one of the properties involved in the Susan Newell/Ed Boler fraud trial, which just recently produced a conviction of Newell on numerous counts of theft by swindle, and one count of racketeering.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Another year got added onto Dyab's sentence. Read all about it.

Johnny Northside! said...

Thank you for your small but meaningful contribution to the social capital stockpile of this blog.

Keep up the good work.

Johnny Northside! said...

Posted for the purpose of commentary, by which I mean commentary about the fact Star Tribune links go dead, are besieged by aggressive pop-up ads, and lately the STrib is trying to get people to subscribe to content we're quite content to get FOR FREE.

Year added to Blaine flipper's term

A convicted property flipper from Blaine who failed to report last year for a 10-year prison term was sentenced by a federal judge in Minneapolis Tuesday to an additional year behind bars.

Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune

Updated: July 3, 2012 - 11:13 PM

A convicted property flipper from Blaine who failed to report last year for a 10-year prison term was sentenced by a federal judge in Minneapolis Tuesday to an additional year behind bars.

Zack Dyab, 48, pleaded guilty to money laundering and mortgage fraud conspiracy charges in September 2010. The government contends he and his co-conspirators bilked lenders out of $7.8 million.

At Dyab's sentencing in 2011, Assistant U.S. Attorney David MacLaughlin asked that he be taken immediately into custody. But Dyab, a naturalized U.S. citizen who immigrated from Syria at age 16, asked for some time to help his Syrian wife and their two children, now 16 and 11, who were completely dependent on him.

U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen granted his request, and he absconded on the day he was supposed to report to the federal prison camp in Duluth.

Dyab declined to make a statement Tuesday. His attorney, Reynoldo Aligada Jr., said in court filings that Dyab had heart problems, became overcome with depression, and couldn't bring himself to tell his children that he'd be going to prison. He made a terrible decision and hid out for five weeks with a friend and turned to alcohol and drug abuse, Aligada said. He asked the judge for leniency.

MacLaughlin argued for an additional year in prison.

"Mr. Dyab had sufficient intellect, verbal acuity, tenacity and energy to run a multi-tentacled mortgage fraud scheme that reached from Minnesota to Florida for almost five years. He surely had the wherewithal to deal with the issues he now asserts as excuses using resources that were available to him," MacLaughlin wrote in court filings.

Ericksen agreed.

"I can't find anything that makes me think you need to have a break," she told Dyab. "Your family is the true victim of this offense," she said. "It's a cruel fact that this falls most heavily on them."

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

I read about it in the dead tree version that I still pay for because I'm old school that way.