The City of Hopkins and the owner of a duplex that is supposed to be part of the newly expanded Cottageville Park have hit an impasse in their negotiations, making it likely that park development will have to continue without the property.
As recently as December, the city and David Gimberline, who owns both units in the 431 Blake Road duplex, appeared on the verge of a $340,000 deal. But Gimberline wants to be allowed to collect rent on the other unit in the property for a period after he sells the duplex
He said he needs the rent as extra security since property values have fallen even as loans and other duplexes are harder to come by. The extra income would provide a safety net during the time it takes to find and a purchase a new property.
But the city says the request is a deal breaker: “That simply is not an acceptable term. He doesn’t own the property (in the event of a sale). He doesn’t have any of the liability risk,” said City Engineer John Bradford.
Why was the deal worth $340,000? Click here to find out.
Negotiations are complicated by the two sides’ disagreement over what was initially proposed. Gimberline, who said a mediator has acted as a go-between for the parties, said he was told in the beginning that he’d be allowed to live in the duplex, manage the property and collect rent for a set period after the sale.
When the initial agreement specified that he’d be able to live in 431 Blake Road, he thought it meant he’d continue to oversee both units in the duplex since they’re part of the same parcel and listed under a single address on Hennepin County property records.
But the mediator later told Gimberline the city needed to make some “technical changes” to the agreement, he said. When Gimberline got a look at the document in December, after weeks had passed, he saw a deal very different from what he thought he was getting—one that made it clear he wouldn’t be allowed to collect rent.
“It was so totally different than the plan we had agreed on,” he said.
Gimberline blames the series of events on misunderstandings and miscommunication, some of which arose from using a mediator instead of talking with the city directly. He added that he doesn’t think either the mediator or the city was “trying to pull a fast one” and that he understands how it might appear from the city’s point of view.
“I think (Bradford’s) perception is that I came in at the last moment and tried to change everything,” he said.
Bradford counters that Gimberline, who has a background in commercial real estate, should’ve understood what the initial agreement entailed.
“I think he would be completely, fully aware of what the terms would be,” he said.
Bradford also doesn’t have any intention of trying to resume negotiations—although he added that he’s always open to talking to Gimberline if the duplex owner wants to talk.
Still, he said the city doesn’t bear Gimberline any ill will: “We’re happy to part as friends and move on our due course.”
In December, a consultant proposed a Cottageville Park redesign that would cost between $2.4 million and $5.8 million. That plan envisioned using Gimberline’s property as part of the expanded park, with a stormwater treatment pond appearing on the site in one map.
Bradford said the city, which already owns a neighboring duplex at 435 Blake Road, will have to revise the plan to account for not having Gimberline’s duplex, but he doesn’t think any wholesale changes will have to be made.
“We’re not upset that he doesn’t want to sell the property. We’re happy to build the park around it,” he said.