Friday, April 16, 2010


Photo by--WTF!?!! That's a raze order! WTF!!!!
Oh, and blog post by John Hoff

First, a caveat before I start doing the copyrighted and trademarked "Firebrand Johnny Northside" thing:

Reported crime in the EcoVillage has plunged to virtually nothing. A good and decent young couple has moved in there, symbolic of a new era in what used to be one of the toughest spots in North Minneapolis. And we wouldn't be here without the considerable help, resources, and energy of the City of Minneapolis. Especially CPED and Regulatory Services/Problem Properties Unit.

But now, with growing alarm, those of us trying to revitalize our Northside neighborhood are noticing the Backhoe of Doom isn't, um, stopping when it's supposed to...

Pictured above are some recent pics I got of 422 30th Ave. N., often called simply "the brick house" in the Eco-Village.

I couldn't help but notice--oh, gee. RAZE ORDER.

And my reaction is...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! For months, behind the scenes and off this blog, a number of movers and shakers have excitedly discussed a dream of saving this house. There was a lot of talk about trying to do something with the vacant lot next door like put in an apple orchard, with a brick oven to make wood-fired pizzas. But now that lot will likely be a new home by the time President Carter comes to visit. This is one of many small house-oriented dreams 'n' visions which have sustained us as we carry forth the decades-long struggle to turn North Minneapolis around; a struggle which seems to be in a new phase because, good lord, we're actually succeeding on a massive scale, not merely (to use an expression from Starship Troopers) "holding what we've got." I give much credit to the use of grassroots media such as blogs and listservs, plus shot spotter technology. Just saying.


It's one thing for a house to get a raze order when that house is completely worth saving. And we're struggling with THAT lately, as well, in situations at other addresses which aren't quite "blog ready" yet, but get thee to Facebook, that's all I'll say for now. Yes, we are struggling to preserve the good in our neighborhood even while fending off waves of wannabe slumlords who are richly deserving of heavy criticism and exposure on the internet. And if they come a-slumming in North Minneapolis, that's EXACTLY what they'll get on this blog, like Keith "1564 Hillside Ave. N." Reitman with the "ugly ass chocolate brown building" so sorely in need of trim and prettier paint. WHY did I hold off so long in recent months talking about this building?

BECAUSE IT WAS WINTER, KEITH. NOBODY PAINTS STUFF OUTSIDE IN WINTER. But now that it's spring, you have no excuse. And no excuse for not shaving, either, but that's another thing.

Where was I? The firebrand is so hot I can't hear myself CRACKLING.

Oh, yes...

It's ONE THING for that struggle to save viable addresses to happen OUTSIDE of the EcoVillage.

But did I mention this house at 422 30th Ave. N. is in the EcoVillage? Yes, I did. Wait, let me go back and check.

Yup, turns out I did. I mentioned the EcoVillage in the paragraph right after the "Read More" jump. There it is. ECOVILLAGE. Unexpected raze order in the Hawthorne EcoVillage.

I mean, good lord, we don't even slap up PAINT in the Eco Village without a committee of Hawthorne-ites discussing what color. (My vote would always be for green, just to make the record on this matter) And now a raze order just appears on a house we wanted to save?

I'm biting my tongue to avoid being too critical of our wonderful allies in the City of Minneapolis but, geez, various entities need to be talking to Hawthorne Neighborhood leaders about this. The only reason that house hasn't sold yet--it's a very solid house, I've been inside of it when it was listed--is because the house passed through six mortgage companies and the title is ALL SCREWED UP.

In fact, this blog documented that quite some time ago, click here and see the comments related to the photo where Housing Director Jeff Skrenes is all excited about mortgage technicalities.

This is why the place hasn't gone through foreclosure and been successfully listed for sale. But there has been zero chance for anybody to come along and save this property, yet. The City of Minneapolis needs to rescind the demo order and not make that decision again until it has actually come up for resale.

In the meantime, SHAME SHAME SHAME on the bankers who own this place, who care so little about our neighborhood and just shuffle viable houses around like cards in a deck--throw this one away, put it in the "burn pile" and go fish--with so little attention paid to the impact on our neighborhood.

WHO WERE THE SIX OWNERS? I want the name so I can drag 'em through virtual mud.

But more important, more pressing than that:

This house must be saved! The insatiable Backhoe of Doom must grind itself to a halt. Listen up, Backhoe of Doom. You are not a power unto yourself. You are subject to political controls, to democracy, to the will of the people who live in the neighborhood.


1 comment:

1915bung said...


Lets start putting some of this economic development money used to destroy our community to better use by providing opportunities for owner occupants to purchase and restore these homes.

The "worth saving" aspect also needs to be addressed. The appraised retail cost of "licensed" code work would condemn most homes in our city.

The City of Minneapolis holds potential purchasers of these older homes to much more difficult standards to rehab than surrounding communities even though the age of median housing is much older. This means that the same home will cost buyers more to buy in our community even though the property values are significantly less.

Is it any wonder that our neighborhoods are only attractive to slum lords who throw tacky temporary repairs up so they can turn a quick profit then leave the homes vacant when the cost of repairs mount up?

Rental investments should be held to a higher standard than owner occupied structures because the owner is subjecting existing conditions on low income residents.

But, the City needs to stop throwing up roadblocks to owner occupancy and start assisting these communities to become neighborhoods again.