U students displaced as Dinnaken sells land

Dinnaken Properties is selling a residential block in Stadium Village.

Mehgan Lee

An abandoned couch, dresser, chair and mattress littered the boulevard along the 500 block of Ontario Street on Monday.

People are being displaced in this part of Stadium Village, and sometimes possessions get left behind.

Seventy-six people, including many University students, are moving or have moved off of Block 12, which is owned by Dinnaken Properties, Inc.

The block and its housing were put up for sale in March. Renters were allowed to finish out the leases on their homes, but their leases all end this month.

Most of the renters have already relocated, or Dinnaken Properties put them in some of their other housing, said Yvonne Grosulak, vice president of Dinnaken Properties.

“Most people thought the sale would be terrible for students, but it wasn’t,” she said.

Brandon Smith, who graduated from the University this spring, lived on Block 12 for a year. He packed his belongings into a Jeep Grand Cherokee on Monday, preparing to move to Uptown.

“It’s too bad they’re taking the affordable housing out,” Smith said. “If they weren’t tearing these down, we would’ve stayed because it’s cheap.”

Renters on Block 12 typically paid $250 each month per person in rent, Grosulak said.

But Smith said he could see why Dinnaken Properties is selling the land.

“You gotta do what you gotta do in the interest of capitalism,” he said.

According to a Hennepin County Web site, the estimated market value of the land and its 16 properties is $3,092,000.

But Grosulak said Dinnaken Properties is selling the land because it needs to be redeveloped.

The properties on the block are 100 years old and do not house enough people, she said. Comparable blocks in the area house several hundred more students, she said.

“It’s a positive thing for the community if we can get better housing and more of it,” Grosulak said.

“As a company, we’re at a time where we don’t want to do any redevelopment,” she said. “We’ll just keep what’s new.”

Four developers are actively pursuing buying the block, Grosulak said. It’s likely that the buyer will tear down the existing properties and build more rental, for-sale housing or a combination of the two, she said.

“I hope they don’t build another place like Melrose,” said Andy Groettum, a University student seeking his master’s degree in education, who lived with Smith. “We have a lot of flavorless places like that.”

The University expressed interest in buying the block in March for potential additions to the Academic Health Center, said Kathleen O’Brien, vice president of University Services.

“The University was very close to signing a purchase agreement for the acquisition of the property, but made the decision not to proceed,” said Sue Weinberg, director of real estate at the University.

The Academic Health Center chose to use its current space more efficiently rather than buy the property, O’Brien said.

“And the University doesn’t just go out and buy land unless we know what we’re going to use it for,” she said.

Dinnaken Uproots
The block of Ontario Street Southeast and Essex Street Southeast is for sale by Dinnaken Properties. Seventy-six renters will be evacuated by Aug. 31.