Strange-But-True: Battle of the Bricks

It's been an especially long time since there was a Strange But True post. And admittedly, this one is a little weak, but it's still worth mentioning because it could have ended up a much bigger deal than it is.

The Battle of the Bricks

The city of Minneapolis tried to force Basim Sabri to construct his proposed 77-unit condo development along the Midtown Greenway between Grand and Pleasant Avenues with an all-brick exterior.  Furious at what to him seemed an arbitrary attempt to hold him to a different standard than other developers, Sabri mailed each city council member three bricks to "bolster is argument that an all-brick exterior was impractical."  Then he sued.

The result is that he will still use brick in the development, but he is also permitted to use other materials in specified areas, mainly stucco.  The condos will be built utilizing the brick shell of the former Midwest Machinery building and two new stories. 

What caused the flap in the first place? Why was the City trying to dictate the exterior of the building in what seemed like an unfair way?  Improperly filled out paperwork.

The trouble started when it came to this new section.  Sabri wanted to use stucco as an outer shell for those two stories, while the City of Minneapolis wanted to insist that it be made of brick. 

It was discovered that contradictory conditions had been placed on the project in two different parts of the approval process.  In granting a conditional use permit, the City Council said that the new areas could be stucco. But three months later, in actually approving the site plan, the council required that the addition be brick.

Having this settled out of court was best for both parties.  If this would have gone to court and the City of Minneapolis won, it could have set a precedent giving the city more power when it comes to building materials.  If Sabri won, it may have tied the hands of officials in guiding development within their own borders. 

One good quote from the article:

"The city has realized that they stepped over their boundaries," [Basim Sabri] said. "There's no way that the judge and jury would buy you having to finish your house in a certain way."

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