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Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

Parties working on settlement to preserve St. Paul fire station

Gregory A. Lang

Twin Cities-area real estate developers cannot always decide what to do with their property without input from the community. At times, this can lead to a lengthy legal battle. Fortunately, negotiation and compromise is often possible, as it was in the case of St. Paul’s oldest standing fire station.

As the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, the developer’s original plan was to tear down the fire station, which was the first in the city and built in 1871, and a warehouse on the site. He wanted to build a 109-unit hotel on the lot.

In objection, members of the community filed suit in Ramsey County Court to have the property declared a “protectable natural resource” due to its historical value. Under Minnesota Environmental Rights Act, this designation would have prevented the developer from razing the station.

Now, instead of holding a court hearing on the suit that was scheduled for April 4, the court ordered the parties to take 90 days to try to negotiate a settlement. Dave Thune, a former City Council member involved in the fight to save the fire station, said the parties are seeking a way to adjust the site so that the developer would have room to build the hotel while also preserving the firehouse.

Thune said the parties have agreed to do that in principle, though there is no specific plan yet. They will spend the next three months finding a way to work out the details.

Real estate disputes need not end up in court, and most legal matters get settled at the negotiation table. But it is important that your attorney be equally skilled at negotiation and at fighting for his or her clients in court.

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