Questions arise over landlord responsibility, after fires at two abandoned apartment buildings

A fire at a vacant, boarded-up building in Minneapolis is now the center of the federal probe, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives join the investigation.

It’s the second major fire this year at an abandoned building owned by landlord C. David George. Public records show that George owns at least four apartment buildings in Minneapolis. Both buildings where the fires occurred were condemned by the city.

In September, a fire at an abandoned building in Loring Park revealed questions about George and what neighbors view as potential negligence.

"We had the foresight to see what was happening here could very likely be what happened at Lyndale Avenue South," said William Holmes. 

Holmes lives near a property on Oak Grove Street and says they repeatedly brought their concerns to city officials but were told there wasn’t much they could do.

Over the last two years, Minneapolis Police Records show there have been 85 calls for service to the property on Lyndale Avenue South, including a trespassing report the day before the blaze.

In a property profile provided by the city, a lengthy violation history shows everything from code violations to the discovery of a dead body last month. 

A city of Minneapolis spokesperson said they had been in repeated contact with George over the last six months, after a pattern of maintenance issues and police activity. The building was condemned and deemed uninhabitable in July 2022. 

"If he’s not taking care of the properties, if they’re falling into disrepair, and are a danger, we really want to make sure the city is as proactive as possible after being made aware of this for months," said Jason Garcia with the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association.

In a statement, Mayor Jacob Frey’s office said: The City’s Regulatory Services Department has been actively working to educate the property owner of their responsibilities, including around security requirements at the condemned and vacant building in question. City leadership will continue to monitor and assess this property and will explore enforcement actions as necessary."

FOX 9’s attempt to contact George went unanswered.