Sale would uproot students

The University is negotiating with Dinnaken Properties for land on which 76 students live.

by Eric Swanson

Nursing student Kara Salomonsen said she and her skiing-house roommates will experience difficulties if the University buys her rental house.

The home is one of 16 properties in a Stadium Village-area block that owner Dinnaken Properties is considering selling.

“We can’t afford to live anywhere else,” said Salomonsen, whose rent is less than $300 a month, a price not unlike many on the block. “I am going to have to live in a box.”

The University, along with two private companies, is negotiating to purchase the entire block of land, possibly for an Academic Health Center building, University realtor Sue Weinberg said.

“We are still discussing the purchase of the property,” she said. “We have made a number of offers, but none have been accepted.”

The possible sale of Block 12, which houses 76 students, could happen soon, Dinnaken Properties vice president Yvonne Grosulak said.

“It is time to do something with the block,” she said. “We have been looking to sell that land, but nothing is definitive.”

“Yes, students are going to be displaced, but the block could be of better use as something else,” Grosulak said.

When the properties’ leases end, Dinnaken Properties does not have to renew them, Grosulak said. Most of the leases will end in August. Once they expire, the owner could tear down the houses, she said.

Terry Bock, associate vice president for the Academic Health Center, said the center is short of space by a couple hundred thousand square feet.

“One thing that is facing us is that we are landlocked,” Bock said. “As property becomes available we are interested in acquiring (it).”

Bock said he was not sure the land in question would be used for an Academic Health Center building, but Weinberg said the land has always been an initiative for the center.

“We have not considered any other use for that land up to this point,” she said.

During negotiations, the offered price cannot be released, Weinberg said. But she did say, “Our appraisals suggest several million.”

The estimated market value for the entire block of 16 properties is $3,092,000, according to the Hennepin County Web site.

Randy Mikkelson lives across the street from the proposed development site. He said he was told there was a good chance efforts to build on the land would commence before next winter.

“I have mixed feelings about this. It will be right across the street from where I live,” he said. “It will hurt the characteristics of Stadium Village with an office building here.”

Mikkelson said there are people in the neighborhood who want to see the homes stay.

“But we are dealing with forces that we won’t be able to overcome,” he said. “I guess I can be happy that they are not taking my block, too.”

But he said he is still a little nervous.

“The ‘U’ has always said that they won’t go past Oak Street,” he said. “Now that they are going to leapfrog over my block, it makes my block kind of concerned when they can use eminent domain.”

Block 12 falls in the Prospect Park neighborhood. Dean Lund, who is involved with housing development in the area’s neighborhood association, said it would be difficult to stop a sale.

Up to this point, no plans for the sale are finalized, giving hope for those living in the area, but leaving them to question the future.

“This house has tons of history. Where will we put all the plaques? This is the ski house,” Salomonsen said. “They don’t need any more offices.”

“Don’t tear down Stadium Village,” University student Kristan Esson said.

“Let’s have a ‘save the block’ block party,” Salomonsen said. “That would be awesome.”