When Nicole Curtis finished work on her contentious remodel in north Minneapolis this past November, she vowed it would be her last project in Minneapolis.
But that hasn't stopped the star of the DIY Network's "Rehab Addict" from retaining an interest in the old homes of Minneapolis, and she has launched her latest broadside against the city over a teardown in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood.
In a Facebook post to her 1.1 million followers on Sunday evening, Curtis accused the City of Minneapolis of hypocrisy for presenting itself as a "green" city, while at the same time allowing the continued teardown of established properties for new builds – which she argues could also present potential health hazards in the form of lead exposure.
The case in question is 2109 Aldrich Avenue South, an 1890s-built duplex that was recently demolished to make way for an as-yet unbuilt 3-unit townhouse development.
"You know Minneapolis – the city that touts itself as one of the 'greenest' cities in the US," Curtis wrote. "Well, here’s the truth -they regulate every single thing you can think of -even passed a city ordinance making it illegal for styrofoam to-go containers —YET!!!!!!!!! They allow anyone to just drive up across a sidewalk and tear down a house.
"This is a city council that literally turned roads into solid bike lanes because they are Eco-friendly. IF THAT DOESNT SCREAM HYPOCRITES???? The greenest house is the one still standing."
Curtis had a long-running feud with the City of Minneapolis over her remodeling of a house in north Minneapolis that she bought from the city in 2012 for $2.
Work on the house at 1522 Hillside Avenue North was finally finished this past fall, prompting Curtis' pledge to never work on a house in Minneapolis again.
At the end of her Sunday post, Curtis says: "City of Minneapolis ...I had to play nice for a minute, but damn, It feels good to be back."
Architect says the duplex was beyond repair
Among the targets for Curtis' ire over 2109 Aldrich is Ward 10 council member Lisa Bender, with whom Curtis has previously argued over another demolition in the same ward.
But she also criticizes William Wells, the architect behind the townhouse design, after he commented on her post saying: "Be ready Nicole ... I am gonna tear down a lot more ... this is the first of many!"
Several of Curtis' followers suggested leaving bad reviews on Wells' company page in response to his comment.
BMTN spoke with Wells, of Wells and Company Architects in Minneapolis, who said that the duplex at 2109 Aldrich Avenue was "sadly ... beyond repair and could not be saved."
He cited plumbing code violations, non-level floors, and a limestone basement that was leaking water as the reasons for its demolition, noting: "The cost of repair was cost prohibitive as older homes do not generate the rents to cover the scale of these repairs."
"All city and state regulations were followed during the demolition process. All proper permits were pulled," he said. "The new 3 unit townhouse development on the site complies with all city zoning laws and has no variances.
Wells notes that this case notwithstanding, he supports Curtis' ongoing efforts to save and refurbish historic homes, which is how she has made her name on HGTV and the DIY Network.
His comment regarding it being the "first of many" comes amid a backdrop of the Minneapolis 2040 program, which will come up for final approval this year.
If passed, it would allow at least a triplex to be built on all residential plots in Minneapolis, potentially leading to radical changes in neighborhoods historically dominated by single-family homes.
Those on transit or commercial streets could see even larger multi-family units.
The plan is designed to improve access to affordable housing in Minneapolis and reduce some of the social and racial inequities that exist within the city's housing pool.
But it has received pushback from those particularly in Minneapolis' quieter and more affluent residential areas, who have concerns about aesthetics, traffic density and parking problems, among other objections.
The property at 2109 Aldrich is zoned R4, which means it's already permitted to have a 3 unit development, but the 2040 plan would extend this to homes currently zoned R1 and R2.
Among the other objectors to the Aldrich demolition is Saralyn Romanishan, posting under the name of the Minneapolis Coalition for Responsible Governance, who claims that neighbors weren't informed of the demo ahead of time, nor about what would be replacing it.
Romanishan, who lives next to the teardown and is a longtime critic of Minneapolis housing policy as well as Councilor Bender, also commented on Facebook: "Infill isn't infill if you tear something down to fill it back in again."
BMTN has reached out to council member Lisa Bender for comment.