Monday, October 12, 2009

Photographic Tour of Mahmood Khan's Properties

Guest post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

I spent much of the day visiting each of the properties listed below (minus 2222 4th St N, 2135 4th St N, and 1607 Hillside, since they have been covered on this blog before). What I saw was frankly appalling. Aside from a condominium where Khan is likely not responsible for maintenance, there was exactly one property - 2714 Emerson Ave N - that impressed me. And this property is occupied, but apparently not by Khan and there is no rental license.

Before we get started, I have two disclaimers: First, I can't say with certainty if Khan has actively made ugly, slummy repairs or if he just happens to buy such properties without bothering to make them nicer. Second, there were some properties where things didn't look that bad compared to his others. But my goal here was to point out the slummy properties, not the mediocre-at-best ones. (Frankly even those properties were among the worst-looking on the block.)

And here we...go!

Our first stop is in...

...Nordeast, just to show that Khan can be slummy wherever he owns properties, not just in NoMi. 315 Buchanan St NE offers such amenities as doors covered in layers of dirt, windows that are mismatched or in disrepair, (both of these are recurring Mahmood Khan architectural signatures), balconies where SOMETHING doesn't seem right, and an outdoor ashtray commandeered from Pizza Hut:

Next up, we have 1001 Logan Ave N. This one has a Khan door, is pockmarked with broken windows, it is open to trespass, and as an added bonus the fascia doesn't match (also, this is the first time I've seen what look like city boards used in this manner). Furthermore, up in the second floor window is what looks like the work permits that are normally posted on the door or first floor windows. Now why would those work permits be where nobody could read--you know what? I think I've got this one figured out.

Now let's hop over just a bit to 1204 Knox. This is an older house that looks like it has some character. In the caring hands of a preservationist, this gem could be restored. In Khan's hands, well, the pictures speak for themselves. The porch is in need of...everything, I guess, once again windows are an issue, and ladies and gentlemen, I direct your attention to the first time we see what is perhaps the most unique characteristic of Mahmood Khan properties: mismatched siding.

The previous post pointed out the Sharpie house numbers in triplicate, so there's no need to show that picture again. But 2116 25th Ave N also has a front porch with a lot going on:

At 1604 27th Ave N, you might see yet another characteristic of the species landlordian slumine: the open garage packed with junk. We also have yet another sighting of multiple siding types.

At 2631 Newton Ave N, one is reminded of the Highlights for Kids magazines. How many different kinds of siding can you find in this picture? (Answer: Three) Will it be the last time we see three kinds of siding on one house? Oh, the suspense!

It should come as no surprise that my FAVORITE house on this tour happens to be in the Hawthorne neighborhood, at 2906 Emerson Ave N. I call it the Neapolitan House. I'll just let that name speak for itself as you view the pictures.

By the time I got to 2813 Aldrich Ave N, I was having trouble holding my camera straight. I was getting lightheaded from the slumminess:

And our last slummy property (but not the last one we'll see) is at 3414 Emerson Ave N. It contains fascia issues and admittedly a letdown with only two types of siding. Did I mention broken and missing windows? I'm sorry, this is all getting rather difficult to keep track of.

Our last stop is at 1800 LaSalle Avenue, #104. This is a condominium, so let's see what a property looks like when it's owned by Mahmood Khan but he's not responsible for the upkeep.

Hey, can we get some of that in OUR neighborhood?


Unknown said...

Sorry to comment here but was wondering if anyone knew where the proposed man made 40 acre lake was to be in NoMi?

MeganG. said...

moisha - that is up in shingle creek neighborhood. Very top northwest corner of the city.

i don't know exactly where the lake is proposed to go, like I don't know what streets.

Anonymous said...

This is sad. I hope that both Don Sammuels and Diane Hofstede are aware of this man's properties. I hope they finally do something about this problem.

Anonymous said...

Great job Hawkman!!

Anonymous said...

Guys, I agree you should come down hard on slumlords for undone and poorly done repairs that present a danger. But you should go easy on the cosmetic stuff like siding that doesn't match.

There's a reason why people on the Northside will re-side just half a house or patch a leak in the roof but don't re-roof the whole thing. Northside property is a very risky investment- you never know when gangbangers will move in next door, the city will condemn your whole block for some mega project and give you peanuts, or some criminal will arson your house and you can't afford insurance. Throw in the loss of value due to all the foreclosures and it's easy to get upside down.

I live in an old house in Hawthorne that I'd be lucky to get $10,000 for. Thus I'd be crazy to spend over $10,000 on any repair. In fact, any repair over $5000 is questionable, because next month something else might break that costs another $5000 to fix.

Granted, crime is down on the Northside which makes it seem like fixing property here would be a good investment. But we've been fooled before- back in the late 1990s crime dropped here, then skyrocketed during the Bush II administration. So I just patch things together unless it's an improvement that I can move to my next house. Thus I've put in a $2000 biomass furnace because I can pull it out in an hour, but I've got two new doors that I'll probably never install here and new energy efficent windows are out of the question despite the 30% tax credit. I need a new roof but I'll patch it for now... But when it needs total replacement or the city hits me with over $10,000 in assessments for sidewalk repairs I'll have to abandon my Northside home and let it go tax forfeit.

Sorry, but that's the sad reality of Northside economics- this is the least desirable neighborhood in Minnesota and only a fool would make significant out of pocket investments here.

Ranty said...

Moisha - it's proposed for the Shingle Creek neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I am certainly not talking about decent property owners who want to contribute to the neighborhod. I am talking about property owners who want to make a quick buck off our neighborhood.

There is difference between the two, at least in my eyes. That is why landlords need to obtain a rental license every year. Homesteaders don't.

I don't want people who just want to make a buck coming in here and throwing together some sad rehab job at the rest of the neighborhood expense. People deserve better.

The time to change the attitude of good enough really needs to change.

Jeff Skrenes said...

@ anon 12:14

I understand where you're coming from in terms of you feel what makes sense for you to do on your own home. But I also believe that this kind of mindset, applied throughout my neighborhood, will not bring about meaningful change or revitalization.

We could have a much larger discussion about what it takes for individuals to make financially sound repairs to their homes. But there needs to be a minimum standard for what a community considers acceptable and I believe that Mahmood Khan's properties by and large fall far below that standard.

And if this is what one can see from the OUTSIDE, I have to wonder what the insides of these properties are like. Actually, that's not entirely true; I do not have to wonder. Instead, I can just look at the laundry list of unfinished TISH work, much of it related to the interior, the number of licenses he has in review, and neighborhood claims that he appears to have occupants in buildings with no licenses.

To current Hawthorne (and by extension NoMi) residents and property owners, I restate my commitment to making this a place where you feel that investing your dollars in quality housing here is a prudent choice. To prospective owners and current slumlords, I say that we have standards in our neighborhoods and you can either commit to bringing your properties up to those standards or get out and stay out.

World Is Flat said...


Very kind reponse to Anon @ October 13, 2009 12:14 PM.

I will translate what I heard you say...

[start JNS Font] WTF, man! If you don't want the responsibilty of homeownership, then become a renter. Part of revitalization is (humm...wait for it....) the beautification part.

Seriously, don't be a slumlord to yourself!

[end JNS Font]

BTW, Good post!

Jeff Skrenes said...

In case anon 12:14 is not a regular JNS reader, "The Mortgage Geek," and "Hawthorne Hawkman" are the same person. I've switched my google accounts profile because the Hawkman moniker is sticking more than the other one. But it's the same person responding to what you and world is flat said.

Yeah, you pretty much nailed it except for one thing. I do realize that our neighborhood is filled with low- and moderate-income people (also known in some circles as "medium-income"). We've had historic cycles of property values increasing and decreasing.

So if you're going paycheck to paycheck and you need to make repairs to your home, I know that it's hard to try and determine what is the right amount to invest, even in your own home.

Now I'm going to wander away from the overly sensitive language and get tough, however. There is such a thing as "deferred maintenance," or money owners (whether occupants or otherwise) put into their property simply to keep it functioning, and that money doesn't do much for the value at all. If you don't own property YET, and you don't have a plan for how to deal with deferred maintenance items like a roof or siding or a furnace, then keep on renting.

And then hold your LANDLORD accountable for those things.

Pond-dragon said...

It is beyond "just" the financial impact. Its called quality of life, self pride and respect for your neighbors.

In short, your neighbors probably don't want to live next to a "DUMP" financially feasible or not. i.e we need to show some respect for our community which is what JNS is saying. Planting flowers, mowing your lawn and painting your house trim are not big deals, however they brighten your neighborhood, show respect for your neighbors and generate a little pride. That is where we are going.

PS: Sooner or later your leaky roof will rot your roof boards and your $3K roof replacement is now a $7.5K replacement. If you run your property into the dirt, you are in the same league as MK. In my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I'm anon @12:14 pm. First off, to the suggestions I give up my home and become a renter- been there, done that, and had to take my slumlords to court twice and won both times. I've been a homeowner for 25 years now. I've gotten pretty good at home repairs and installed that biomass furnace myself and done a bunch of other repairs myself too.

Outside of the metro area I can get a home on my own lot with utilities in a small town or the country for well under $100k. That's a new 800 square home that meets all current codes in a safe small town or rural neighborhood. Good luck doing that on the Northside. For a start, the city isn't about to let me use my old house for storage, so budget at least $20k to tear it down. Then figure $20k for the poured concrete foundation Minneapolis requires. Then belly up to the permit counter and ask for a permit to plop that code compliant $50k manufactured home on said foundation and watch them laugh you right out of the place. Even if they give you the permit, they'll value your $100k house at $200k, a valuation that'll be reflected in your permit costs and taxes in perpetuity.

Or you can spend more than the cost of a new home fixing up a century old Northside home. When you're done it'll still cost more to heat and cool than a new house and there's no guarantee a crack house won't open up right next door.

The only way to end this viscous cycle is for Minneapolis to drive down the cost of new construction and rehab to the point where it's competitive with other cities. Restoration of the deferred loan program, written city agreement not to target or condemn a property after improvements are made, and stable funding for our police department would motivate me to rehab my home or build a new one on the Northside. But I don't see any of the above happening.

Anonymous said...

Pond Dragon, show your neighbor some respect! Unlike MK, no body gets murdered on my property. I mow my lawn and shovel my sidewalks even when my neighbors don't.

But I do not have a bottomless pot of money to blow on trying to fix up an old house in the 'hood. I can afford to invest $100k in a house, but that won't buy me squat in Minneapolis and even if it did I could have a crack house set up next door. So I'll probably take my $100k and invest in a small town or rural home where my money goes farther and a murder a decade is considered too many.

BTW, a new roof for my 122 year old tiny house will cost around $10k, so I may as well abandon it. Then figure in 14 windows that need to be replaced for another $7k, rewiring the place at over $10k, and a few thousand for new plumbing and we're close to the price of a new modular and still have no basement, no central heat, and who knows what gangbangers will move in next door?

Jeff Skrenes said...

To the anonymous commenter, I'll say that the foundation is not just a city requirement (although there can be variances, and we might look into that for some properties in the EcoVillage depending on the energy and environmental performance factors) but it's also a neighborhood preference.

Look around at the "Dream Homes" throughout Hawthorne. These are homes that were constructed much in the same manner you propose, and very poorly so. I'm sure there are ways to do good construction without the kind of foundation you describe, but historically we haven't seen that here.

And while I'm not well-versed in construction costs, I don't think we need to try to be on the same playing field as outstate or exurb Minnesota.

Finally, take a look at properties owned by Khan and other slumlords when you wonder aloud whether investing in your own home will bring a meaningful return on the dollar. How much do you think places like the House of Poop, the Neapolitan House, 2222 4th St N, etc. contribute to the low property values that you rightly bring up as a concern?

Anonymous said...

First off your anonymous commenter is Dyna, I used anonymous because I couldn't get my google identity to work. As for the foundation, IIRC concrete block meets MN codes but not Minneapolis codes and has stood up well for decades. That said, due to lower labor costs the poured concrete foundations Minneapolis requires are often in the same price ballpark as concrete block. However, block may be greener because it uses less material. There are other options available outside Minneapolis such as treated wood, but it's debatable if that's any cheaper in the long run.

I'd appreciate it if you didn't slander manufactured housing by associating it with the infamous "dream homes". The problem with the "dream homes" wasn't that they rolled in on wheels, the problem is that they were too big for the lot, used expensive electric heat, and were basicly a scam to suck money out of the Section 8 program. I'd suggest you look at the products of a legit manufactured home producer like to appreciate the value in manufactured homes. You have to admit, even their basic $50k cabin meets all current codes and beats the hell out of the century old houses we've got here. Would you complain if I replaced my 122 year old house with no basement or central heat with one of these? And if Minneapolis doesn't like the estetics of a "rambler", they make "foursquares" like we have in Hawthorne too. But they're rather expensive because the trucks have to make four 400 mile round trips to deliver a two story home from Prairie DuChene instead of two. But if Minneapolis welcomed manufactured housing a builder would probably set up a plant here to lower the transportation costs and provide some sorely needed jobs here too.

Another option for producing affordable green (and bulletproof!) housing is ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms). Unfortunately at the current low (actually no) volume of house building we're seeing on the Northside ICFs aren't any cheaper than obsolete stick construction, but with volume the prices could drop.

Sadly, none of this is going to happen until the failed paradym of stick built construction and overpriced rehab is abandoned in Minneapolis City Hall. With the cuts in LGA, Minneapolis is desperate to raise the tax base to stave off bankruptcy by allowing only such overpriced new construction or rehabs. That strategy is backfiring as home builders and buyers take there money elsewhere and leave Minneapolis behind.

Of course, if at least one neighborhood were to stand up to Minneapolis City Hall that paradigm might change. I suspect a new home for $100,000 would cause buyers in droves to forget about Northside crime and rapidly repopulate the Northside. But does anyone dare take on city hall to make it happen?

Anonymous said...

The only way to produce real change is for the people who live here to demand it, of themselves of their neighbors, and of their leaders.

Take a risk- Pay to play, for a change... or move away.

Cleveland Guy said...

A few thoughts (and I know I'm joining this late)...

1) The reality of Northside Economics: Couldn't unload a house for $10,000?? I hope that's hyperbole. As someone who checks the realt estate listings on a regular basis, I haven't seen many prices that low.

2) Owning property is a community responsibility, even if not all property owners realize it. I put plants out front in the spring for the neighbors (and to positively influence potential neighbors looking at houses in the area), not because I need to see geraniums. Not to mention, a well kept block can be a crime deterrent. I use the back door and barely see my front yard. Not all repairs can be done the day they're needed, but things can be cleaned and maintained to minimize unexpected repairs.

3) Owning personal property is different than having a business as a landlord. Mr. Khan is not a good neighbor (owning business properties makes him a neighbor) nor, apparently, a very good businessman, if he can only afford the type of repairs we see here. If he can't make the business work, and be an asset to the neighborhood as a businessman, he should sell (or give up) the assets and try another line of work.

MeganG. said...

Good point Cleveland Guy!

Let's face it, most of the fluffy stuff we do outside our homes & yards is for others, not for us.

Mr. Khan represents, possibly, the worst of the worst. If we can get him to raise the bar to our collective expectations, we have a victory. Now the bar is raised and there will be a new "low" - hopefully to never fall back below the new "low".