Federal lawsuit filed over downtown Rochester apartment complex

City government and economic development authority accused of violating the Fair Housing Act.

Posted: Jul 21, 2019 1:46 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. – People who say they were forced out of their homes by construction of a downtown Rochester apartment complex are suing the city and the Rochester Economic Development Authority.

The class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota by James Campbell and Sarah Louisell claims Rochester city government and the Development Authority authorized tax increment financing support for the Residence at Discovery Square, a mixed-use building with over 140 apartment units. The lawsuit states that Campbell and Louisell’s former apartment building at 519 3rd Avenue SW charged very low rents and when it was torn down to make way for the new multi-million dollar structure, the city and the Development authorities "repeatedly refused” to provide them with relocation help as required by law.

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of everyone who lived at the site of the Residence at Discovery Square from October 19, 2016 until the previous buildings were demolished. That covers two apartment buildings, three duplexes, and four single-family homes. It claims that over half of those affected were racial or ethnic minorities and “a substantial portion” were disabled and that even though 20 percent of the apartments at the Residence at Discovery Square were aimed at low-income individuals and families, they were still nearly double the rents Campbell and Louisell were paying before.

The lawsuit accuses the City of Rochester and the Rochester Economic Development Authorities of violating the federal Fair Housing Act and asks for appropriate damages.

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