Civic beat // Lake Calhoun high-rise may be in store for city-financed rehab

The big stucco high-rise on Lake Calhoun’s west side may be in line for $2.4 million in public financing to replace the building’s failing exterior and upgrade its windows and doors. 

Condominium owners of Calhoun Place, 3131 Excelsior Blvd., are asking the city to issue bonds for the rehab because at least three banks have rejected their loan requests. Owners say they’re unable to sell their units because of the looming exterior issues. 

Tom Ellingsworth, the Calhoun Place Condominium Association board president, said the building has poor insulation and caulking that could lead to water damage. The proposed improvements would replace the building’s exterior, plus make the units more energy efficient. Replaced windows and glass doors would reduce the noise from Excelsior Boulevard, one of the busiest spots in the city.   

The nine-level complex was built in 1987. It was converted from apartments to condos in 2004. When owners like Ellingsworth bought their condos in 2004, they didn’t know about the pending exterior issues. 

The condo associations settled with the conversion developer for $400,000. 

Owners are trying to be the first to use a new city financing tool called a Housing Improvement Area. The City Council created it in 2011 to help condo and town home associations pay for needed improvements. 

City Council members Betsy Hodges (Ward 13) and Lisa Goodman (Ward 7), pushed for the creation of the HIA funding tool.  

If approved for an HIA, the 108 Calhoun Place owners would have to pay the city back for the $2.4 million construction project. The average owner would have to pay $22,000 for the improvements. They could opt to pay up front or over the next 20 years. 

Two-bedroom units in the building are listing at $167,500 and $189,900. 

The 13-member City Council would need to cast nine votes in order to issue the bonds for the project. 

If owners don’t pay their annual fees to the city, the city could draw from the condo association’s account, said Mark Winkelhake, the city’s manager of development finance. If that account dried up, the city would have to use its own money to pay make bond payments. 

Ellingsworth declined to say how much the association had in reserves, but said he was confident taxpayers wouldn’t have to foot the bill for delinquent condo owners. 

In order to get city financing, 75 percent of unit owners must sign a petition. According to city documents, 83 of 108 owners have signed statements of support, or 77 percent. 

On Nov. 7, the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development Committee was scheduled to vote on a request to have city staff continue to analyze the project. 

If staff gets the green light, Winkelhake said the City Council would likely vote on bond issuance sometime in January. Public hearings and petitions signatures would still be needed. 

Construction, according to city documents, would run from April to October. 

It’s unclear how much the construction would change the appearance of the building. The Condo Association’s architect did not respond to a request for an interview.

City settles data case with cop for $392K

The city of Minneapolis will pay a former St. Paul and Eden Prairie police officer $392,500 to settle a case in which the cop alleges over 140 police officers improperly viewed her information. 

Anne Rasmusson has now collected over $1 million from 16 different jurisdictions. According to federal lawsuit, 46 Minneapolis police officers accessed her personal information. 

According to other media outlets, officers encouraged other officers to look up Rasmusson’s information because she is attractive. 

The city of St. Paul settled with Rasmusson for $385,000.

The Minneapolis City Council voted 12-0 on the settlement. Don Samuels (Ward 5) was absent. 

“These cases are difficult cases. The city takes data privacy very seriously,” said City Attorney Susan Segal. 

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.