Orthghazi: A 2320 Colfax Timeline

2320 Colfax on February 13th, 2015.

You may have heard of the house controversy that’s rocking Lowry Hill East. But unless you’re a house superfan, you probably have no idea what it’s about. With the demolition of 2320 Colfax nearly upon us, here’s a handy timeline to get you up to speed on Orthghazi.

1893: T.P. Healy builds 2320 Colfax, also known as Orth House. Anders Christensen, in arguing for the house’s historical significance, notes that 1893 is the same year as a financial crisis and the Chicago World’s Fair (to find other things that happened in 1893, such as Nabisco’s cream of wheat, visit HistoryOrb.com).

1895: First house fire. Repairs performed by T.P. Healy.

Post-WWII: 2320 Colfax is converted from single-family into a boarding house, a condition which will annoy neighborhood homeowners for over half a century (until 2014, when “Save the low-income boarders” becomes a disingenuous rallying cry).

Nov. 1981: Trilby Busch and Anders Christensen “go on record” in Twin Cities Magazine “contending that 2320 Colfax is an important part of Healy’s architectural legacy.”

Healy descendants pose in historically accurate late-70s costumes.

1991: A second fire inflicts significant damage on 2320 Colfax. T.P. Healy, demolished by heart failure in 1906, was unavailable for repairs; he would have been a historical 147 years old.

2007: The owner of 2320 Colfax, Mike Crow, puts his house on the market.

2008: Future Minneapolis City Planner John Smoley earns an advanced college degree, a credential he will later wield to destroy history.

2011: Third house fire at 2320 Colfax.

Aug. 2012: Mike Crow agrees to sell 2320 Colfax to a developer.

Oct. & Nov. 2012: The developer makes two presentations before the neighborhood regarding an apartment proposal at the site of 2320 Colfax. The developer decides to build within the zoning code, and not seek any variances. This fact, combined with the City’s determination that 2320 Colfax is not historic, paves the way for demolition.

Mar. 2013: CPED issues a demolition permit for 2320 Colfax. Anders Christensen (a long-time neighbor and friend of Ward 10 Council Member Meg Tuthill) appeals this decision to the City’s Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC).

Apr. 2013: HPC rules in favor of Anders Christensen’s appeal, declaring 2320 Colfax a historic resource.

May 2013: 2320 Colfax’s owner, Mike Crow, appeals HPC’s decision to the City Council.

May 24, 2013: Tuthill and her Council colleagues vote 13-0 to uphold the HPC decision (please note: this was an innocent time before the notion of aldermanic privilege).

May 27, 2013: Anders Christensen advocates shutting down the boarding house at 2320 Colfax and “reusing it for an urban hotel or bed and breakfast.”

Nov. 5, 2013: Despite an endorsement from HGTV’s Nicole Curtis, incumbent Council Member Meg Tuthill loses in a landslide to Lisa Bender. Tuthill is the founding mother of LHENA, with a history in the neighborhood that goes back to the early 1970s. Neighborhood long-timers are deeply crushed.

Jan. 6, 2014: The new City Council is sworn in. There are seven new members, out of 13 seats (check my math, Meg). News stories are written about the Council’s fresh faces. Long-time residents from across the city are deeply crushed.

Feb. 3, 2014: Less than a month after Bender’s swearing in, the Facebook action heats up. Minneapolis Residents for Responsible Development Coalition (MRRDC) is founded by an anonymous neighborhood association board member. Thus begins a brutal campaign of kitchen sink NIMBYism (anti-gentrification; worry about future ghettos; too much parking; not enough parking; materials are too cheap; rents are too high). Facebook dissent is weeded out with a merciless use of the ban function.

April 2014

Mar. 14, 2014: Anders Christensen reveals that City Planner John Smoley’s fancy college degree is actually just a Ph.D. in Missile Silos. An embarrassed (probably) John Smoley takes his revenge by engaging in a campaign of lies (allegedly) to destroy 2320 Colfax, all from his base of operations in a fourth-ring suburb.

Mar. 23, 2014: A group with an even longer acronym, MRRSVLD, is founded as a satirical counterpoint to MRRDC. It takes months for most people to sort out who’s who.

Apr. 2014: More than a week of candle-light vigils for the house at 2320 Colfax are capped by a guest appearance from home improvement icon Nicole Curtis. This event also serves as a posthumous campaign rally: recently defeated former Council Member Meg Tuthill is caught on video tutoring Curtis on the finer points of Minneapolis politics.

Nicole Curtis’s dog’s eyeballs escape the vigil with only minor burns.

Apr. 22, 2014: MRRDC coins the phrase Bendrification. Meanwhile, chemists at MRRSVLD invent the muscle cream Bender-Gay (For when your muscles are tired from destroying the neighborhood™).

Apr. 25, 2014: The Council follows recommendation by City staff and votes 11-2 to approve the homeowner’s application to demolish a historic resource. HGTV’s Nicole Curtis films an episode of her television program during the vote. Critics wonder if she’s secretly profiting from the controversy.

Late Apr. 2014: The Healy Project files suit to stop demolition. The judge rules against them. It becomes clear why Anders was so agitated over Smoley’s education.

May 1, 2014: Once again, Trilby Busch and Anders Christensen cite a 1981 article written by noted experts Trilby Busch and Anders Christensen (who, you may recall, went on record “contending that 2320 Colfax is an important part of Healy’s architectural legacy.”)

May 11, 2014: A 170th birthday party is thrown in honor of T.P. Healy. Healy’s ghost is reported to have blown out the candles.

Aug. 13. 2014: Anders Christensen’s group, The Healy Project, puts forth a plan that would preserve the house at 2320 Colfax, while converting the existing structures into 1 & 2 bedroom apartments. Under this plan, the boarding house would be shut down.

Sep. 30, 2014: Anders Christensen rebukes the City Council’s Z&P Committee for permitting the owner of 2320 Colfax to shut down his boarding house and sell his property. His argument: allowing a property owner to displace “vulnerable adults” is not the “decent thing” to do.

Oct. 3, 2014: The Council approves developer Michael Lander’s plan for an apartment building at 2320 Colfax. This is despite continued credible assertions from Anders Christensen that developer Michael Lander has been to London, England.

Oct. 18, 2014: 2320 Colfax’s owner hires a contractor to perform asbestos abatement without the proper permit for work on a Saturday. Former Council Member Meg Tuthill and other neighbors are not happy. Pictures are taken of at least one worker’s ID card and posted to Facebook (since deleted). Meg is reported to have said to the workers (and I’m not making this up): “I’m the Council Member!” The workers leave and return another day.

Oct. 19, 2014: Word of the previous day’s dust-up reaches Nicole Curtis, who calls out Lisa Bender (blaming Bender both for a homeowner’s permit oversight, and the disappointing 2013 election results). 700,000 Facebook fans from across the country are suddenly very unhappy with Lisa Bender.


Oct. 27, 2014: A story is published about Nicole Curtis performing house rehab without the proper permits.

Dec. 6, 2014: Nicole Curtis vows to “stockpile” her money for the purpose of defeating Lisa Bender in 2017.

Dec. 16, 2014: Lisa Bender is banned from a Facebook group run by The Healy Project: “North Wedge Historic District.” This is seen by some as a bold move, considering the Council Member is uniquely positioned to help them achieve an actual Wedge historic district.

Dec. 18, 2014: HGTV personality Nicole Curtis boasts of her generosity in funding (at a cost of $102) The Healy Project’s last-ditch attempt at a temporary restraining order to stop the demolition. Once again, the judge rules against them.

Dec. 21, 2014: Trilby and Anders again “go on record,” citing their own article from 1981 as evidence that 2320 Colfax is historic.

Jan. 2015: Lisa Bender experiences increased online harassment, and is frequently locked out of her Facebook account due to unauthorized log-in attempts.

Jan. 21, 2015: The Healy Project publishes part one of a soon-to-be 87-part blog series targeting all the liars: The Truth Will Out: Lies that Brought Down 2320 Colfax Avenue South.

Jan. 28, 2015: The Healy Project publishes an open letter to the City Council, along with an invitation to view pictures and videos of the interior, courtesy of their friend Ezra Gray.

Jan. 30, 2015: The geniuses at MRRSVLD produce a hilarious parody of Ezra’s videos.

Feb. 4, 2015: With neighborhood tension at an all-time high, a local journalist becomes the target of a PDF-attached email campaign.

Feb. 7, 2015: Healy Project videographer Ezra Gray publishes the following post to Facebook. Anders and Trilby go on record, liking the post.

Feb. 9, 2015: Robin Garwood (a Bender supporter and aide to Council Member Cam Gordon) publishes a powerful indictment of The Healy Project and their allies, claiming they are analogous to the Tea Party circa 2009. Among other things, he cites their knee-jerk rejection of nearly everything Bender proposes. Garwood also notes that members of The Healy Project sent emails to the City Council in defense of the above Facebook post, with at least one person using the phrase “Je suis Charlie” (because, if you defend yourself from a weirdly disgusting and completely unfounded accusation of corruption, the terrorists win).

In the comments of his post, Garwood makes the case that, despite the constant references to corruption and lies, The Healy Project doesn’t have their facts straight.

Feb. 10, 2015: In the wake of Garwood’s post denouncing The Healy Project, Nicole Curtis calls him out for a recent work trip to Cuba. Curtis also takes issue with Council Members receiving paychecks.

Curtis claims to have been sent “disturbing” emails written by Council Members Andrew Johnson and Lisa Bender. At Johnson’s request, Curtis promises to release them. At the time of writing, she still hadn’t released the emails.

Lisa Bender nominates the “Lowry Hill East Residential Historic District.” Fans of old houses are not impressed.

UPDATE: 2320 Colfax demolished on February 24, 2015.

Cross-posted to Stubble Magazine.

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