Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist


Dateline: 1:10 am April 25, 2014 Filed under:

Well, here we are. Another contentious City Council vote on a development. Tomorrow the Minneapolis City Council will vote on whether or not to authorize the demolition of a building located at 2320 Colfax Avenue South. Rather, they will be voting to uphold a decision by the Zoning & Planning Committee. Much has been written about this, at, the Star Tribune and the Twitter-verse (it has its own hashtag – #2320colfax), even extensive fodder for a Facebook parody site. Kare 11 and Fox Twin Cities also provided TV coverage. There have been candlelight vigils led by Nicole Curtis, the Rehab Addict.

One piece of coverage has escaped my notice until now. It appeared in a post in March, when the building in question was being voted on by the Heritage Preservation Commission. The following is a comment that appeared in that post. It was written by Mike Crow, the current owner of 2320 Colfax.

“I’m Mike Crow the owner of the property at 2320 Colfax. I was really amazed at the support and presentation of the people that came to the HPC hearing and would like to thank them for it.
One of the arguments was that the building was not marketed as a single family home, I did not care what someone wanted to buy it for, but I listed it as what it was. For tax purposes it’s listed as an apartment building, it’s insured as an apartment building and if you were to see what it looks like on the inside after the renovation from the major fire in 1991 it looks like an apartment building. Another reason I had listed it as a rooming house or multifamily was that I would not have to displace the tenants that live there. At the time that I listed 2320 Colfax I did not even list the building next door that is over 2/3 of the land that the development needs to move forward, my original plan was to sell 2320 and remodel 2316 and move into it. It was only after I was approached about selling both properties for development that I agreed to sell both. The commissioner that said it was never listed, was mistaken, in 2010 it was listed on Loopnet, Zillow, Craig’s list, oodle and I had contacted at least 8 different real state company’s in the area and gave them all the same opportunity to sell it as whatever they could, the only thing I had requested is that I wanted them to look for a potential buyer that could be vetted, because I did not want every curious person interrupting my tenants life’s every other day, I think any rental property owner can understand that, and that I did not want a sign so that it did not make the tenants upset and move. In 2012 I listed it with Tom Dunn from Terra firma commercial, because He agreed with everything and assured me that he knew people that would have an interest in the property. In 2010 shortly after having had a back surgery and my second open heart surgery, 11 months apart, I was desperate to sell because my financing was running out, and I had received a couple of hit on my credit due to medical bills, and was afraid I would not be able to get refinanced, so I listed the building for $200,000. Below appraised value and still could not sell it. Luckily the bank that I had been with for many years, Sunrise bank came through and I was able to get some short term financing. While I had it on the market I had at least 12 showings, mostly organizations that use this type of housing, without an offer. I have owned the property for almost 23 years; it has always had the correct R-6 zoning and has been inspected by the City of MPLS, for its historical value 2 times in the past and both times they said because of all of the changes it did not qualify for a historical designation. So I sold it for what I thought I had the right to. The HPC was used as a means to an end, and was not brought in for 8 months or until the old PTB could not stop the apartments from being built any other way. The delays have damaged every part of my life, family, finances and delayed a more serious back surgery that I need, to be able and find out what I will be able to do the rest of my working life, If I can’t sell the building, I can’t afford the up to a year of recovery time without and income or someone to manage the property. None of the HPC commissioners looked at the interior of the property, and I don’t know if any looked at the exterior other than pictures, and there is no way you can make an informed decision without. I have filed an appeal with the City council and hopefully they will be able to find the time in the next few weeks to look at the building for them self or at least some of them.

If anyone has any questions, please ask, I have very little private personal life left and if it helps people feel better about it, it’s ok with me.”

In spite of all the mudslinging, name calling, fact-mangling and developer witch-hunting that goes on when people’s passions are stirred because they care about their city, and regardless of how the city council votes tomorrow, it is important to understand the perspective of the actual owner of the property. Maybe this will give some people pause.

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