Popular HGTV star fights to save historic Minneapolis home - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Popular HGTV star fights to save historic Minneapolis home

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

In a few days, the Minneapolis City Council will vote on whether to demolish a house one neighborhood doesn't want to see go -- but it won't go down without a fight that is being spearheaded by a local celebrity.

Millions know Nicole Curtis as the host of the home improvement show "Rehab Addict" on the HGTV and DIY networks, but she's also become an activist in her own Minneapolis neighborhood.

On Tuesday, Curtis celebrated Earth Day by doing what she does best -- trying to save an old home. This time, it was just a little more local.

"The entire structure of the original house is still there," she told Fox 9 News. "Just because it's old doesn't mean it's not valuable anymore."

When it comes to history, the city of Minneapolis can have a short-term memory. That's why Curtis is fighting so hard to keep a house that is more than a century old from being demolished.

"We need another apartment building in the Uptown area like we need a hole in the head," Curtis said. "It's already so busy. I get it if we want pro-density, but then let's build on the empty lots we already have."

The home at the corner of 24th Street and Colfax Avenue South was built in 1893 by one of the city's master builders, TP Healy, who was known as the king of the Queen Anne style of architecture.

"Some of the people who want to tear it down say, 'We have enough Healy homes,'" Curtis said. "That's like saying, 'Oh, the museum has enough Picassos; it's okay if we throw these ones out."

Now, however, a developer wants to buy what is now a 15-unit rooming house and the one next door to make way for a modern, 45-unit apartment building. Owner Mike Crow said a fire in the early 90s gutted the second and third floors of the Healy home, making it look more like a hotel than a historic home.

"There is nothing left," he contends. "All the railings there are all Menards."

Other than the staircase and a window in the main entry, there aren't many of Healy's signature touches to preserve, and Crow said he believes the city stands to gain from saying goodbye.

"It's the best thing for the neighborhood. It's the best thing for the city," he argued. "It would increase the number of people with disposable income; it would increase the city's tax base. If there was something left to save, I probably wouldn't have had a problem trying to sell it."

Yet, Curtis says there is still enough of a foundation to restore the home to its former glory, and she says the neighbors who live nearby should have a say in whether they see a historic house or an apartment complex.

"We're the people that actually have live here and see this every day, and if we want this house still standing, I think that's all that matters," she said.

Last year, the Minneapolis City Council agreed with the Heritage Preservation Commission that the Orth home is a historic resource and stopped demolition on the house; however, Crow appealed to the new council. Last week, the Zoning and Planning Committee approved a demolition permit and the full City Council will vote on the issue on Friday morning.

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