Homeowners question U’s Block 11

The University might want to construct parking lots on the block.

Joy Petersen

In February, the University bought four lots located at Oak and Fulton streets Southeast on the block known to the University as “Block 11.”

Since the purchase, multifamily complexes have been leveled and the properties are fenced.

These aren’t the only properties on the block the University is interested in buying, however.

Susan Weinberg, director of real estate for the University, said the University bought the lots because they were close to some of its other properties.

“If we can acquire additional properties on Block 11, we may want to try to construct some additional surface parking,” she said.

Now, the lots, which aren’t next to each other, are too small to do anything with separately, Weinberg said.

Two properties on the corner not owned by the University are preventing construction, Weinberg said, so the other four will likely become green space for now.

Sherwood Brekke, former owner of the properties, owned two of them since 1985, but said he sold to the University because he is past retirement.

The University didn’t inform Brekke of its plans for the properties.

“I was emotionally attached to them a little bit,” he said, “but once you sell them, then you lose control over the destiny of the place.”

The University owns the Oak Street Ramp, which is north of Block 11, and a parking lot to the east on Block 12, which used to be a green space.

Paul Poteat, who owns another Block 11 property, said the University has contacted him about buying his property.

“It makes you ask the question, ‘Is the “U” going to take aggressive measures or proactive measures to acquire property?’ ” Poteat said.

Orlyn Miller, University architect and development departmental director, said the University has no construction plans for the property, but it is trying to acquire land for possible projects.

The University contacted Block 11 property owners about the demolitions.

Block 11 homeowner and former University student Eric Lonergan said the University contacted him twice, but he has no intentions of selling.

“If it was a crazy number that they were going to give us, we would consider it,” Lonergan said. “But our main aim isn’t to make money, so nine times out of 10, no.”

Weinberg said the University would be willing to appraise properties if homeowners were willing to sell, but some homeowners feel the University hasn’t been fair with its appraisal numbers in the past.

Poteat said he feels the community on his block is too important to the students living there to sell.

“It creates a sense of community Ö when you can have some people who know each other, who live together in closer proximity and can interact, then it creates community,” he said.