Station 19 owner: City trying to tax us out

Station 19 historic firehouse co-owner Darrel LeBarron has been through quite a fight in the last couple years since the University of Minnesota decided to build the new on-campus football stadium in his backyard. 

LeBarron is now crying foul once again after he says his rising property taxes are making it tough to stay put. Normal increases or conspiracy by city to get him out?

LeBarron talked to Finance and Commerce about his troubles keeping up with property tax increases on his building. His architecture firm currently is housed in the building as well as leased space for two other tenants. 

When the stadium construction was in its planning stages, the U of M tried to purchase the property from LeBarron. When he refused, he feared the University would try to kick him out through eminent domain. When concerns escalated about the future of the building, Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, inserted an amendment to stop the University from using eminent domain to acquire property for the stadium project.

But is the city now jacking up his costs to scare him out? It doesn't seem likely. 

From Finance and Commerce:

According to Hennepin County tax records, LeBarron's property tax bill jumped from $36,500 in 2006 to $39,398 in 2007. Based on the latest assessments, he estimates that his 2009 payable property taxes will go up to $44,000, nearly a 21 percent increase from 2006. 
The taxable market value of the 10,850-square-foot Station 19 property went from $1.055 million in 2006 to $1.175 million in 2007, an 11 percent increase. In 2008, the assessed value jumped to $1.3 million, a 10.6 percent increase over the previous year.
Minneapolis city assessor Patrick Todd told Finance and Commerce he was surprised by the complaints. He said the building is in a good location in the University area and that the taxes aren't unusual. He said no one is trying to tax him out of the building. 

"We have a lot of people that scream foul because we are raising value," he said in the article. "I would expect it to be going up a lot faster for someone to feel we are being too aggressive." 

Here is LeBarron's argument:
LeBarron said his taxes are out of line with what is happening in the rest of the neighborhood. On average, he said, property taxes in the neighborhood are going up about 3.4 percent. 
Some aren't going up at all. For example, according to county tax records, the taxable market value of two nearby buildings - the Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union at 2520 University Ave. SE and the Teamsters Building at 3001 University Ave. SE - remained flat from 2006 to 2007.
What would the University have in mind for the building anyway? While it could make for a great alumni center or restaurant, ideas originally discussed during stadium planning, the University doesn't really have money to throw around for purchases.