City ups ante fighting problem properties

The City Council voted May 14 to increase the amount of money the city may spend to fix vacant, hazardous and nuisance buildings before demolition.

The city used to cap the rehabilitation investment at the cost of demolition (approximately $10,000), according to city reports. The Council increased the cap to 50 percent of the property’s after-rehabilitation market value. The city recovers the rehabilitation cost by assessing the property owner.

The Council also voted to fully fund vacant and boarded building demolition if needed. It dropped a requirement that neighborhood groups contribute matching money from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP).

"The city wants more flexibility to address nuisance, vacant and boarded buildings, whether or not the neighborhood group has funds available to help in funding the demolition," Assistant City Attorney Harry Reimer said.

The city keeps a list of boarded properties subject to teardown, called the 249 List. It now has approximately 125 properties, down from approximately 500 several years ago.

The city posts the 249 List at It revises it weekly.

Southwest has 14 properties on the 249 list.

The Whittier neighborhood has four properties: 2717 1st Ave. S.; 2605 2nd Ave. S.; 2021 3rd Ave. S.; and 2420 4th Ave. S.

The Lyndale neighborhood has four properties: 3438 1st Ave. S.; 128 W. 32nd St.; 3140 Pillsbury Ave.; and 3101 Pleasant Ave.

The Stevens Square Loring Heights neighborhood has two properties: 1805 3rd Ave. S. and 1909 Stevens Ave.

The Kingfield neighborhood has two properties: 3618 1st Ave. S. and 3614 Stevens Ave.

The Lowry Hill East neighborhood has one property: 2717 Emerson Ave. S.

The East Isles neighborhood has one property: 2844 Humboldt Ave. S.

In related news, the city is creating a rapid response team for problem properties.

Called the Problem Properties Task Force, it will identify properties based on such things as 911 calls and coordinate a response with the Police and Fire Departments, the City Attorney’s Office and Licensing and Inspections staff, city

leaders said.

Deputy Mayor David Fey said the idea grew in part from the mayor’s interest in having comprehensive safe summer strategies. Sara Dietrich, a city spokesperson, said the City Attorney’s Office and Regulatory Services both identified problem property reduction as key initiatives in their five-year business plans.

Reimer said the task force is still a work in progress.