Nicole Curtis, the feisty host of the HGTV reality show Rehab Addict, had an announcement to make last week. Her years-long fixup of an old Victorian house on Hillside Avenue in north Minneapolis was finally over, and it was time to celebrate.
“Almost time to open the doors to my LAST Minneapolis project,” she posted on Instagram. In the same sentence, she invited everyone to stop by and participate in a fundraiser for the Backpack Project, a nonprofit supporting homeless teens.
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Almost time to open the doors on my LAST Minneapolis project and we are raising money for such a great cause @backpack.project. My buddy started it a few years ago as the homeless teen population Keri’s growing here ...come out today 1-3 pm —-bring your cash and smiles $5 donation per person even the little ones :) #1522hillside #minneapolis #rehabaddict
It’s an interesting way for a reality TV star to announce that she is washing her hands of an entire city, but Curtis has long been at war with Minneapolis over this very property -- the fateful “LAST” house.
It all began in 2012, when the pint-sized, drywall-busting TV host bought the condemned north Minneapolis house from the city for all of $2. She had agreed to “substantially complete construction” on the old Victorian property within a year of the sale.
A year came and went. Construction noises rose to a chorus and, unexpectedly, stopped. Felled trees and building detritus littered the yard, and the house remained old, vacant, and uninhabitable. Neighbors, who had been hoping to see a home full of family activity by this point, shook their heads and worried about trespassers and drug dealers taking up residence.
“If this was in Edina, she would be crucified,” one North Side resident, Jonathan Lundberg told City Pages in 2015.
Curtis always seemed to have something new to say about why she was behind. In 2014, on her Facebook page, she posted about contractors that “kept pushing back” and left worksites “in shambles.” Two of her contractors, in fact, filed liens totaling $36,000 for work that had been left unpaid. The property later fell behind on its taxes.
In 2015, neighbor Aimee Lundberg asked for an update on the project via Facebook message, and an unnamed person running Curtis’ account replied that there was “no update” and that “over the weekend someone threatened [Curtis] and issued a letter blackmailing her regarding the property. Therefore, it is on hold again.”
Meanwhile, Curtis and a group of preservationists were loudly protesting the razing of the historical Orth House in Uptown. Curtis called City Council Member Lisa Bender a “liar” and “destroyer of history” on Facebook. Tensions were rising, and increasingly, city leadership was less than charmed by the realty of this reality TV home renovation.
In 2017, the city of Minneapolis took Curtis to court, saying she had “failed” to redevelop the property on time, pay property taxes, and maintain insurance on the house, and the city wanted her to give it back.
Curtis admitted that the house, indeed, wasn’t done, but she laid the blame at the city’s feet. She “was prevented and/or delayed from completing performance of the contract’s terms due to the acts of [the city of Minneapolis] and the acts of third parties.” She accused the city of blocking her rehab effort by demanding a $200,000 deposit in exchange for a building permit. The city denied it did any such thing.
Later that year, Curtis and Minneapolis settled. Curtis would have to complete the project in six months. If she failed, she’d have to turn the home over to the city.
It’s late November, and the end has finally come -- not with a bang, but with an Instagram post.
She never went into detail about why this house, as she said in her announcement, would be her “LAST” in the city -- nor did she respond to interview requests. But after years of fighting with Minneapolis residents and government, Nicole Curtis intends to take her hammer -- and her smile -- elsewhere.