Hennepin County's hidden fees on property acquisition
One of the questions that remained unanswered in last week's story about the Hennepin County rehab of Lowry Avenue on the north side of Minneapolis was a total pricetag on property acquisition. Nowhere in a 122-page report about the project is there any kind of cost estimate.
One county engineer acknowledged that the road construction for each of two phases (from I-94 to Girard Avenue North, then Girard to Theo Wirth Parkway) will cost some $6 million.
But the county has been engaging in buyouts, relocations, and eminent domain for some 29 parcels along the Lowry Avenue corridor. What's the county spending on that? Last week, no one seemed to know.
"The phase one acquisition costs are not complete, but what we've spent so far is around $6.7 million, and that number includes relocation, et cetera," clarifies Hennepin Coutny Works staffer Carol Lezotte in a voicemail to Blotter. "We still have two condemnation cases out there, so we anticipate that number will go higher."
In other words, in addition to the $12 million for both phases of the road construction, snatching up property for the entire project will cost as much as another $12 million, if phase one is any indication.
One owner who did not go quietly was Keith Reitman, who has owned a mixed-use property on Lowry and Lyndale that he has upgraded over the last 18 months. To hear Reitman tell it, the county did a "quick-take" on his property, essentially offering him $550,000 for a parcel and building he claims is now worth $1 million, "give or take a nickel."
"My response was 'Fuck you,'" Reitman says. He is pursuing a lawsuit against the county, with a hearing scheduled for sometime next month.