Judge rules against group fighting to save Healy House

A recent judge’s ruling has cleared the way for a new development at the site now home to the Healy House in the Wedge neighborhood.

A Minnesota District Court judge denied on June 9 an attempt to block demolition of a rooming house at 2320 Colfax Ave. S.

A group called The Healy Project, a nonprofit with a mission to identify and preserve homes built by architect T.P. Healy, is evaluating its next course of action.The group has raised $11,000 for the effort, even selling T-shirts by a local graphic designer.

“Justice is blind, but expensive,” said Anders Christensen, head of The Healy Project.

The group sought a temporary restraining order from demolition, and sought a declaration that the property is historic and cannot be demolished under the Minnesota Environmental Resources Act.

Judge Marilyn Brown Rosenbaum decided that The Healy Project’s experts — Christensen and Bob Roscoe, a contractor and former chair of the Heritage Preservation Commission — lacked the education and type of data generally relied upon in the historic preservation field. Each “presented a personal, biased opinion, which cannot be helpful to the trier of fact, and which lacks foundation and credibility,” she said.

“What took the sting out for me was the statement that I was ‘self-educated.’ I thought my mom would be really proud,” Christensen said following the ruling.

The judge agreed with property owner Michael Crow’s experts — Minneapolis city planner John Smoley and Amy Lucas, former city planner and principal at Landscape Research LLC — that the home lacks historic integrity and would not be eligible for designation as a landmark or historic resource.

“The Healy Project is free to marshal its assets, raise capital, make a competitive bid to purchase the Property, and then proceed with its plans at its own expense. This burden should not be placed on the Crows or, ultimately, on the taxpayers,” wrote the judge.

Christensen said other possibilities for the house have included a $400,000 purchase offer from NicoleCurtis (host of the television show Rehab Addict) as well as buyer interest from a low-income housing operator, two local architects and potential buyers working with a nearby historian.

But the offers would come nowhere near developer Michael Lander’s offer for the property, Christensen said.

“When the city voted to grant the demolition permit, they in effect gave Michael Crow $250,000,” he said. “The economics don’t compare to demolition and apartments.”

Crow has pointed out that in the months after city officials’ original decision to deny demolition, no one stepped up with an offer for the site.

A proposal for four stories of apartments at 2316-2320 Colfax is moving through the city approval process. Plans call for 42 units, a decrease of three units from the earlier proposal. New plans eliminate below-grade parking, with 32 parking spaces now built into the first floor. The project as proposed would need special city approval for reduced front and rear yard setbacks, reduced minimum parking requirements from 38 to 27 spaces, and a reduced drive-aisle width.