Rocket House and the Turkey Guys Explained

World famous Rocket House.

Cards and letters have been pouring in with questions about one topic in particular. So here’s everything you always wanted to know about the master builders of our time: Danny Perkins and Drew Levin, aka the Turkey Guys.

@WedgeLIVE @lisabendermpls I am not sure I understand what a rocket house is and why it is a problem. ?

— Scott Snelling (@SnellingScott) June 18, 2016

@WedgeLIVE question from a newbie: is famed Turkey House the one on Lyndale?

— David Brauer (@dbrauer) June 6, 2016


Who are the Turkey Guys? 

Danny Perkins and Drew Levin are some local guys who made their fortune selling turkey sandwiches at the state fair. They’re also real estate investors and builders who have purchased dozens of properties across the city, including many in the Wedge. And they’ve got an HGTV show about real estate and home renovation called “Renovate to Rent.”

I think I’ve seen their show on HGTV. Is a Turkey Guy the same thing as a Property Brother?

A Turkey Guy is not the same thing as a Property Brother.

Can you make up some biographical details about the Turkey Guys? 

Screenshot of their unofficial HGTV bio.


What sorts of properties do the Turkey Guys own/renovate/build?

Sometimes the Turkey Guys purchase a home, renovate it, and rent it out. These houses are indistinguishable from others in the neighborhood. Other times the Turkeys will purchase a single family home in an area zoned for higher density housing, tear it down, and build a new multi-family house (a Turkeyplex).

The Turkeys have also recently started constructing apartment buildings: there’s one under construction at 28th and Girard, similar to other buildings along the Greenway. For another project, they’re planning the sort of small-scale apartment building that we don’t often see these days: a 10-unit building at 2008 Bryant with almost no parking (which received this reaction from concerned residents).

There’s an argument to be made that the Turkeys are building the kind of “missing middle” multi-family housing that’s far cheaper than the luxury units offered in most other new construction (“Boutique 28” excluded).

Apartments on Girard will be called ”Boutique 28” proving even the Turkey Guys think it will be full of assholes. pic.twitter.com/5dInYpeF19

— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) March 26, 2016


What are the defining characteristics of a Turkeyplex?

Side-facing balconies with wooden canopies are a good tool for spotting Turkeyplexes in the wild. The units are often larger than most other new construction, ranging from three to five bedrooms.

Non-famous Turkeyplex in Whittier.
2808 Colfax Ave in the Wedge.

What is a Rocket House?

Some say it’s a doomsday weapon intended to knock the sun from the sky, rendering your solar panels useless; others say it’s a skinny, three-and-a-half story, pointy-roofed fourplex. The Rocket House is a particular kind of Turkeyplex, located at 2743 Dupont. It’s been featured on TV, radioand at shout-y public meetings.

Why do people hate Rocket House?

The people most troubled by Rocket House and the Turkey Guys tend to be the same people who have been greatly agitated since the 2013 City Council election; they continue to grasp for reasons to be outraged. In other words, 2320 Colfax became old news, so now we gripe about Rocket House.

I once sat through a neighborhood association meeting where a board member barked questions over and over at Council member Lisa Bender to get her to admit she’s secretly a Rocket House supporter. Bender did not break.

Matlock moment involving Bender earlier tonight re: famous Turkey house. Basically: do you or do you not support that 5 story monstrosity!!?

— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) January 21, 2016

Why is Rocket House so pointy on top?

The formula the city uses to calculate setbacks is determined using building height. As a result, a three-and-a half-story building can be closer to the building next door than a four story building could be. The city is currently looking at amending the zoning code’s definition of “half story” which would make three-and-a-half the equivalent of four stories, eliminating the incentive for builders to construct pitched-roof rocket houses.

Isn’t this all just a corrupt and illegal destruction of the neighborhood?

The construction of new multi-family housing hasn’t yet been made illegal (though not for lack of effort). The Turkey Guys typically do not request variances from the city; they build within what zoning allows, avoiding hassle and uncertainty, as well as a potential shitstorm from concerned residents (one recent exception was a four-unit building at 3621 Bryant, where it sounds like the Turkeys were encouraged to seek a variance by people who wanted to avoid another Rocket House being constructed in the neighborhood).

Another thing that’s not illegal is owning multiple properties. Despite this, the Turkey Guys have become the ultimate neighborhood boogeymen for a small group of concerned residents who plot the location of every Turkey property on a map. The resulting map is unveiled routinely at meetings of the local neighborhood association. When they prop up this big map, it’s hard to know what the point is, other than, “hey, they must’ve sold a lot of turkey sandwiches to be able to afford all those red dots.”

Can you predict future trends in residential rocketry? 

I’m convinced that if we ban the Rocket House style (which Lisa Bender seems determined to do), the house at 2743 Dupont will be known in future decades as a one-of-a-kind neighborhood treasure that must be preserved. Architecture snobs should ask themselves: are people talking about your favorite houses on TV and radio? Is wedgelive.com publishing a blog post about the guy who built your terrible cookie-cutter, suburban-style, so-called historic, single family house? Nope. People are talking about Rocket House, built by a pair of architectural visionaries we call the Turkey Guys.

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