Whittier homebuyer says no plan for halfway house

2500 Pillsbury formerly an eldercare facility

WHITTIER — The Minnetonka real estate investor who purchased a Pillsbury Avenue property in April says he has no plans to use the property as a halfway house.

Jason Heroux said he hoped to put to rest rumors the property would soon house parolees or be put to similar use. He said he was “looking to sell” to an owner-occupant.

“I’m in the process of just doing some cosmetics on the house: tearing up some of the old tiles to expose the hardwoods and cleaning up the landscaping,” he said in early June.

The 105-year-old building previously housed a 22-bed nursing home facility, Pillsbury Board and Care Home.

Heroux said another potential buyer looked into the possibility of converting the building to a “group home or community residential program.” When that buyer ran into trouble financing the deal, Heroux purchased the property and held it for two months to give the buyer more time.

“They were unable to get their ducks in a row,” he said. “So, I just stepped in and looked at the house, and to me the highest and best use of the house is just converting it back to a single-family residence and selling it to somebody who wants to live in the neighborhood.”

Calls to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Minnesota Department of Human Services and the city turned up no records that anyone had applied for a license to operate a halfway house or similar facility at the location.

Whittier Alliance Executive Director Marian Biehn said she met with both Heroux and concerned neighbors about the house and also toured the property.

“We did go through it and the house really, the house could be a gorgeous house,” Biehn said. “… The bones are still there, and a lot of the original features are still there.”

Biehn said members of the Whittier Alliance Board of Directors were looking into ways to encourage more single-family homeownership. She relayed that message to Heroux.

“Whittier has a high concentration of rentals, and they have a high concentration of group homes, sober houses, this and that, and it sounds like they’re not really interested in having any more,” Heroux said. “I can understand that.”

Heroux said he’d shown the property to several interested buyers. For more information on the property, contact him at [email protected]