Tuthill and her husband, Dennis, moved to the Wedge over 40 years ago, a time when older homes were being demolished and replaced by two-and-a-half story walkup apartment buildings. Now, she’s concerned redevelopment could make the neighborhood less bike and pedestrian friendly.*
As a non-driver who walks to quite a few public meetings, my long-time neighbors tell me that traffic and parking in Lowry Hill East is a nightmare (and I believe them, because their calves appear dangerously atrophied from hours of sitting in traffic and waiting for a prime spot to open up). On the other hand, everyone can agree that it’s a great neighborhood for biking and walking. It’s the kind of place that tends to repel the car-centric, while attracting quite a few avid pedestrians and cyclists. It’s a major neighborhood selling point.
Contrary to Meg’s theory, this dynamic is good for safety. Studies show that drivers are “less likely to collide with a person walking and bicycling when there are more people walking or bicycling.” This is attributed to “behavior modification by motorists when they expect or experience people walking and bicycling.” As a result, I’m pretty enthusiastic about how my new neighbors will impact my personal well-being.
Sponsored Content: Let’s reinforce this positive dynamic by ditching parking minimums. The City should allow new apartment buildings in neighborhoods like ours to cater to residents who’d rather forego the expense of parking the car they don’t own. I hope Meg reconsiders her position on strict parking minimums when she understands the effect it will have on cyclists and pedestrians.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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’swho.
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™).
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Wedgie Awards were a real thing. We’re bringing them back.
At tonight’s LHENA holiday party we’ll be handing out trophies to some of the neighborhood’s wackiest characters to honor their amazing performances in 2014. We’re revealing the names of Wedgie recipients in advance on the blog, but don’t tell the winners. And you should still come to the holiday party. I don’t want to be the only transient turd in the punch bowl. That can get unbearably awkward.
Lady who asked during a meeting, “who’s the Palestinian guy we don’t like?” This was when she couldn’t remember Basim Sabri’s name.
The time LHENA coordinator Tina Erazmus’ daughter sabotaged her mom’s ringtone, then called the phone during the final presentation of Lander’s 2320 Colfax to LHENA. It played for ten seconds at full volume before Tina realized she was the obnoxious hip-hopper in the room.
The time the Board Member from MRRDC proposed that LHENA hold a joint fundraiser with Healy Project, formalizing the alliance between our neighborhood’s Axis of Long-Timers (LHENAMRRDCHealyProject.org).
The Wedgie goes to: The time the LHENA Board was considering two candidates for appointment to a single open board seat. After a vigorous 5-minute campaign that included one of the candidates (Pet Supply Guy) explaining he would be unable to attend any board meetings, there was a tie. Following much deliberation, the LHENA board broke the tie in favor of transient hero, political juggernaut, and guy who CAN attend the meetings, Michael Roden.
Outstanding Performance in Shameless House Advocacy
Task Force Leader Bill’s contention that certain Greenway buildings are “15 minutes from a ghetto.”
Board Member Bill invoking “the big G word” (gentrification) as a reason to oppose development at Franklin & Lyndale.
Months later, in his capacity as Landlord Bill (I guess?), he would advocate for the neighborhood to demand only the finest materials be used in new developments; that there is no difference between $5,000 rents and $1,500 rents; and that it’s not really the neighborhood’s responsibility to push for housing affordability anyway.
The Wedgie goes to: It’s a three-way tie between Task Force Leader, Board Member, and Landlord Bill.
Most Misremembered History
The Wedgie goes to: LHENA Board Member Sue for constantly citing the location of 19th century Lake Blaisdell as a reason not to develop the parking lot at Franklin and Lyndale. For the record, the lake was east of Lyndale.
Runner up: Mean-spirited rumors that some of our neighborhood’s long-timers are old enough to have swum in 19th century Lake Blaisdell.
Best Lesson in Neighborhood Democracy
The Wedgie goes to: The time Board Member Tim said there would be a neighborhood vote on Lander’s 2320 Colfax project. A majority turned out in support (many of whom had better things to do), but the vote never happened. Lesson learned: LHENA only votes on development issues when they have the numbers to oppose.