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Minneapolis allows developers to demolish historic former home of renowned city writer

Brenda Ueland lived in the home for 31 years prior to her death.
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A Linden Hills house that was once the home of renowned Minneapolis journalist and author Brenda Ueland will be demolished.

By a vote of 6-5, Minneapolis City Council on Friday granted an appeal by developers John Gross and Andrew Commers to overturn a decision taken by the city's Heritage Preservation Commission in February that blocked the demolition and called for a historic preservation study.

The developers want to tear down the two-story farmhouse at 2620 W. 44th St., not far from Lake Harriet, and build a multi-family building of up to 10 units, according to council documents.

They argue that it has no economically feasible future as a single family home. They have already spent $840,000 to buy the property and due to its poor condition, say it'd cost a further $500,000 to renovate and re-sell the home.

Preservation groups had argued for the house to get historic protection due to its link to Brenda Ueland, the Minneapolitan who became the first female reporter on the Minneapolis Tribune and became a successful author, peaking with her 1938 book If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit.

She moved into the home in 1954 and stayed there until her death in 1985. A lot of her writing during this period would be about the house and Lake Harriet.

But despite the city considering it a "historic resource" as Ueland's former home, the Star Tribune reports ward council member Linea Palmisano said it's undergone many changes since her death (during which time it has had five different owners) and it no longer bears much resemblance to the home she lived in.

You can check out some pictures of the house on this Zillow listing dating back to before it last changed hands.

The developers have suggested they could help celebrate Ueland's legacy in a different way, offering to contribute between $10,000 and $30,000 towards a commemoration possibly in the Linden Hills Library or a local park.

A legal memo submitted by law firm Jane Prince, Weinblatt & Gaylord was among the submissions to the council opposing demolition, saying the developers had paid too much for the property.

They argued the developers could wait until a study is carried out to see if the property deserves National Historic Designation.

But some local residents wrote in favor of demolition, with David Elsner, who lives on nearby York Ave. S, writing: "It sounds like it has sadly not been maintained well enough over the years to make it financially feasible to keep it as it is. I would be fine with a new construction project under these circumstances as long as it holds up to the architectural standards of the neighborhood."

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