City beefs up problem-property fixes

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May 24, 2004 // UPDATED 1:44 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

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 a key initiative in their five-year business plans.

Assistant City Attorney Henry Reimer said the task force is still a work in progress.

In related news, the City Council voted May 14 to increase the amount of money the city may spend to fix vacant, hazardous and nuisance buildings rather than demolish them.

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 the demolition of vacant and boarded buildings if needed. It dropped a requirement that neighborhood groups contribute matching money from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP), which has been cut by more than half in recent years.

"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," 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 has the 249 List at It revises the list weekly.

The Downtown area has two properties on the list: 115 5th St. NE in the Nicollet Island/East Bank neighborhood (boarded since June 1994) and 1137 7th St. S. in Elliot Park (board since June 2001).