SUMMER 2017 LITIGATION UPDATE
It’s been almost a full year now since we were prematurely forced to close our doors and move out of the Metropolis Minneapolis building, sending us on indefinite hiatus. We’re so grateful for the outpouring of support from our many patrons and the Twin Cities community at large during this very difficult year past. As our patrons know, we are in the midst of a big civil lawsuit against our former landlords at Metropolis and the jury trial has been set for this September. We won’t actually know our exact trial date until September rolls around. The outcome of this trial and our ability to collect upon any damages that may be awarded will determine a lot in terms of the future of Open Window Theatre.
We believe our case has only gotten stronger over time, bolstered by the fact that the City of Minneapolis has finally taken some enforcement actions against our former landlords for “unlawful occupancy.” This occurred after we notified the City of the multitude of serious code & ordinance violations present at the Metropolis property and the landlords’ lack of compliance to remedy these violations. In taking this action, the City has finally recognized that the only existing certificate of occupancy for the building, issued back in 1969, allows the building to be used only as a warehouse. As a result, the owners have been renting the space out for a wide variety of commercial uses without having gone through the process to obtain a proper certificate of occupancy and ensure that the building is safe and up to code.
While we’re very grateful to the City of Minneapolis for their actions over the past year and believe they should be commended for it, the fact remains that the Metropolis property continues to operate without hindrance one full year after we were forced out in spite of the grievous property-wide fire code violations, occupancy violations, and handicap accessibility violations that persist without remedy. No other tenant at Metropolis has been negatively impacted and hundreds of people a day continue to move through that building, which we believe is not safe or code compliant for its current occupancy.
We learned through discovery in our lawsuit that in May 2016–shortly after we first notified the City about our plight–inspection officials threatened to placard the property and order it vacated unless the landlords cooperated to remedy its unlawful occupancy of the building. But to our knowledge, nothing has been fixed at the property to date and only one $500 citation has been levied against the landlords for their lack of compliance and cooperation. We believe that needs to change.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
The landlord’s profiting from their unlawful activities, and the singling out of Open Window, has gone on for long enough. Last fall we drafted up an online petition to the City demanding that they hold these illegal landlords accountable. In less than a week our petition quickly surpassed the initial goal of 1,000 signatures. Given recent developments, and the City’s failure to fully follow up on its finding of a violation over a year ago, now is the right time to deliver the petition.
Given what we now know, the nature of our request has been updated. We are now demanding that the City immediately act upon its stated intention to placard 1313 Chestnut Avenue and order the property vacated until the landlords get the building up to code and obtain a valid Certificate of Occupancy.
We have added this demand to our online petition to the City, but before we deliver the petition we want to make one more signing push to reach at least 1,500 signatures. Please help us reach this goal!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
As soon as we reach 1,500 signatures we’ll close the petition and deliver it to the city officials that were copied to our June 2016 letter. If you haven’t yet signed the petition, please do so! (https://www.givemn.org/project/Openwindowtheatre) And encourage others to sign it by sharing our petition via email and social media.
You can also help put additional pressure on the City to take the appropriate action by calling your City Council member (if you live in Minneapolis) or by contacting the Minneapolis Development Review Center at: 612-673-3000. Ask to speak with someone in Construction Code Services, inquire about the 1313 Chestnut Avenue property, politely express your concerns, and request that the City follow through with its proposed plan of action to placard and vacate the building until a valid certificate of occupancy is obtained.
By taking action you are helping to bring about justice for Open Window Theatre. Thank you!
And to help us cover our base operating expenses as we remain homeless, please consider making an online tax-deductible contribution right now, or mailing a donation to: Open Window Theatre, P.O. Box 16067, St. Paul MN 55116.
THANK YOU for your continued support and prayers. God bless you!
Jeremy Stanbary, Founder/Exec.-Artistic Director/Board Member
Sarah Stanbary, Co-Founder & Assoc. Director
Nes Rotstein, Chairman of the Board
Mark Blando, Board Member
Robert Stanbary, Board Member