City Roadblocks Against Preservationist Northside Remodeler

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

February 26, 2019 - This letter was shared by Blake Zochert of Zochert Properties. He purchased a vacant/foreclosed house in North Minneapolis from the city of Minneapolis. It is a very telling story about how the city is using its power to crush a good-intentioned local North Side preservationist. These are the very people and small businesses we should be advocating for.

Please contact these city officials if you can throw some support to Blake.

Elfric Porte - manager, Residential & Real Estate Development, Community Planning & Economic Development (CPED)

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison (Ward 5)

Mayor Jacob Frey

David Hoban, district supervisor, Office of Inspections, Construction Code Services, CPED

Here is Blake's February 26 letter describing his situation, written to neighbors of the North Side property he purchased.


Good day to everyone!

To those who might not know me, or forgotten, my name is Blake Zochert. I purchased 2200 Dupont from the city awhile ago. I've been eagerly waiting to work on the house, but the city keeps preventing me from doing so. I want to be completely transparent about what is going on over there.

The initial delay in beginning the renovation at 2200 Dupont in full force is probably my own: I was finishing up another whole-house, 2,500 sq. ft. remodel at 1519 Fremont Ave N. That property sold at the end of last year, for a record amount for that neighborhood, and probably in North Minneapolis, for around $435,000 retail (although I sold it wholesale).

As that property was wrapping up, and after we improved the property values of the neighborhood and North Minneapolis overall, I was able to refocus attention (and money) on 2200 Dupont.

I've provided the city every document and fulfilled every requirement they've demanded of me. I am dying to get in there and resume the renovation at full speed, but the city is actively preventing that from happening.

I am looking to turn 2200 Dupont into my own personal residence. I am budgeting to spend over $300,000 of my own money on the project, and turn the house into a mini-mansion of sorts (it's a very big property). One that would be the crown jewel of North Minneapolis. I don't know why I'm being roadblocked by the city.

Perhaps they want to keep values down. Perhaps they have a personal grudge against me, as I've upset the Housing Department by pushing back on nonsensical requirements, air tests that aren't necessary, and other confrontations at other properties they're delaying as well.

Whatever it is, I am asking for your help in getting them to stop. Please contact your local city councilperson, city rep, mayor, etc. -- anyone who can tell the city to please let this project continue. I need loud voices: I want you to know I AM NOT the reason why this house sits empty, and in its current condition. The city of Minneapolis is the reason.

I've included all the documentation that I've provided the city that they've said they need for approval (aside from my proof of liquid funds showing my bank account). Included is

  • the insurance they require,

  • the building permit,

  • the proof of funds, both liquid funds AND proof of financing via a loan,

  • the building plans,

  • the scope of work, and

  • the site plans (not the full set of plans but enough so you get the idea).

Included also is a 3D rendering of the renovated garage and the "before and after" pictures of the exterior of 1519 Fremont (my previous project) so you know I have experience in these types of large jobs.

I wanted you to see all this information, to be transparent, so you can know firsthand that I've provided all the city has asked for, repeatedly -- and yet they still won't officially issue the permit and let the project proceed. I wish to apologize to you: I'm sorry you have to live in the neighborhood where this house is. I'm sorry you've had to deal with the issues that arise from a vacant property. I'm sorry nothing is getting done over there. But mainly, I'm sorry that the city is preventing this from happening. I feel like I've done all I can, and given them all they've asked for.

Not only that, but the city is not keeping their word. I met with them early in February and we agreed to a deal to get the project back up and running. I went in and met with them personally, and terms were agreed to. When the city came back and provided me the written version of this deal several days later, the terms were NOT what they had agreed to. They broke their word and went back on the terms they had accepted in our meeting.