“I am haunted on a daily basis that I have blood on my hands because of the fact that I was drawn into this unwittingly and duped by the city,” said Brad Hoyt, developer of Lowry Grove, in St. Anthony, MN.
“Hoyt’s company, the Village, bought and closed Lowry Grove and is now suing the city of St. Anthony for fraud and civil conspiracy.” The Star Tribune’s Hannah Covington said, the suit “alleges that city officials induced the company “to close the mobile home park in order to rid the City of low-income, multicultural citizens that the City deemed undesirable.””
Hoyt says he was led to believe that he would get tax-increment financing (TIF) support to turn the mobile and manufactured home community into higher density multi-family housing.
The video below provides some context from last year, but explains some of the issues being raised in this new suit.
Lowry Grove drew regional and national attention. A bill was floated by Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison that proposed a path to save some communities like Lowry Grove. The bill called for incentives to owners who sell their communities to residents, instead of to developers or other investors.
A prior report on this same case has been tracked for years by the Daily Business News, with one of those prior reports linked below.
City Fights Back
City Manager Mark Casey statement said the city plans to fight the “ridiculous lawsuit.”
“The city sees this lawsuit as completely without merit,” said Casey. “Mr. Hoyt apparently made a horrible real estate transaction that displaced hundreds of honorable people and now wants to shift his losses onto the city, which is wrong and irresponsible.”
Hoyt’s federal lawsuit was filed Monday. It alleges the city of leading the Village to purchase Lowry Grove for $6 million in 2016 without intending approval of the high-density multifamily housing project which Hoyt planned to replace the community.
“Enough is enough,” Hoyt said Tuesday. “This is about a city … acting together in a conspiracy to commit fraud, the goal being to use us to rid them of the nonwhites and low-income people and make sure they don’t come back.”
A 712 unit proposal for multi-family housing was turned down last October. Hoyt redid the proposal, apparently based upon city feedback, for 430 units instead. When The Village submitted the lower-density plan, that was approved in March, based on “promised TIF” assistance, according to the lawsuit.
During a May working session, a financial consultant’s memo advised city leaders that “the projects could be developed without any TIF assistance from the City,” per city records.
Hoyt said “They double-crossed us again.” He has sued other metro area cities over development projects, said that prompted the lawsuit.
The Lost Fight
Residents tried to keep Lowry Grove open, including a complaint that the plan broke state law. That action was dismissed.
As industry professionals know, when an older community is closed, pre-HUD Code mobile homes and some older HUD Code manufactured homes may be hard to move for a practical or economic reasons.
Some residents lost their homes. Covington said “Some, like Jason Mitchell, ended up homeless.”
“I wandered around downtown not knowing what I was going to do,” said Mitchell, 40, who now lives with his mother in a mobile home two hours from the Twin Cities. “I think they are quite literally trying to eradicate poor people and Hispanics from this neighborhood.”
“It was mostly lower-income people. I think the city just didn’t want us there anymore,” said Bob Wargin, 67, who was a 26 year record. “It was probably in their eyes a blight on their beautiful little St. Anthony community.”
Frank Adelmann took his own life days before the eviction deadline.
Hoyt and others feel duped and manipulated. “I am haunted on a daily basis that I have blood on my hands because of the fact that I was drawn into this unwittingly and duped by the city,” he said Tuesday.
The case is a reminder of other troubling ones in various parts of the nation. Some of those are reflected in the related reports, linked below. ## (News, analysis and commentary.)
(Third party images, content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
1) To sign up in seconds for our MH Industry leading emailed news updates, click here.
2) To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click the link to the left. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.