Lawsuit is last-ditch effort to save historic T.P. Healy home in Wedge [PHOTOS]
With the city unwilling to preserve it, the fate of 2320 Colfax will be decided in court.
Photos by Aaron Rupar
:::: UPDATE (May 6) :::: The Healy Project elected not to seek an injunction during yesterday's hearing. Since the owner of 2320 Colfax doesn't plan to evict residents for at least a couple months, one isn't needed. Healy Project representative Trilly Busch tells us a judge ordered the case to move forward "with dispatch." A meeting between the preservation group's counsel and a judge is scheduled for later this month, Busch says.
The Minneapolis City Council recently green-lighted the demolition of a historic home built in 1893 by T.P. Healy at 2320 Colfax Avenue South in the Wedge. A lawsuit that will be the subject of a hearing today represents a preservationist group's last-ditch effort to spare it from the wrecking ball.
The house, which now serves as a 15-unit boarding home and is sometimes called the Orth House, was recognized as a possible historic resource by the Minneapolis Historic Preservation Commission last year. But property owner Mike Crow successfully applied for an application to demolish a historic resource, and the plan is to convert the property and an adjacent parcel into a large apartment building. (See a rendering of it here.)
In the lawsuit, a group named The Healy Project argues the house is a natural resource entitled to protection under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. The group says that out of the more than 100 homes built by Healy in Minneapolis, the Orth House is the only one from 1893 still standing.
"The home at 2320 Colfax Avenue South marked a turning point in Healy's career as he moved away from the more fanciful Queen Anne style homes and moved toward a Colonial Revival style that would mark much of Healy's later work," the lawsuit says. The home "is a unique and irreplaceable landmark. As such, its destruction would result in irreparable injury to Plaintiff and to present and future generations of Minnesotans."
Although it doesn't identify her by name or specify a dollar amount, the lawsuit points out that Nicole Curtis, a local resident who hosts HGTV's Rehab Addict, offered $400,000 for the home. That amount, however, was reportedly a couple hundred thousand dollars less than what the developer is willing to pay. (Read about another of Curtis's Minneapolis efforts here.)
Trillby Busch, writer of most posts on The Healy Project's blog, says the group hopes to be granted an injunction preventing demolition during today's hearing. The longtime activist tells us 2320 Colfax could be the first Healy home destroyed in the city in more than three decades.
Regardless of how the suit turns out, Busch tells us it's her understanding that current residents of the home have been told they won't be evicted for two or three months.
"Nobody wants a lawsuit. We feel forced into this because if we didn't do it the house would go down soon," Busch tells us. "We're going to show that it is a historic resource and we're going to show that viable options exist instead of demolition."
Historical preservation aside, the city also has pragmatic reasons to protect 2320 Colfax, Busch argues.
"The city talks about affordable housing and here they're wrecking this house and another one next store with six units -- that's 21 units of affordable housing and they're replacing it with something that is going to be above market," she says. "The city is doing a zero-waste initiative and asking us to recycle cans and bottles and meanwhile they're sending this home weighing 200,000 tons or more to the landfill."
But as Trillby acknowledges, the City Council has already made its decision, and the last line of defense between 2320 Colfax and the wrecking ball is now the district court.
To see more photos of the Orth House, click to page two. You can read The Healy Project's lawsuit for yourself on page three.
Click to page three to read the lawsuit.
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