Pohlad’s large house, Coleman’s small mind

Nick Coleman is a third-rate columnist for a second-rate newspaper. He wields his Star Tribune metro column like a hatchet, performing acts of destruction that seem to fulfill some dark needs. Coleman’s column illustrates how a newspaper such as the Star Tribune can become a corrosive force on the civic life of the city it serves. Yesterday’s Coleman column about Jim Pohlad — “Massive homes have designs on our lakes” — provides a good example.

Carl Pohlad’s life is a classic American success story. He started life in dire poverty only to achieve incredible success as an entrepreneur in many businesses. (Among the businesses he owns is the Minnesota Twins.) Two of Carl Pohlad’s three sons — Bob and Jim — are now involved in running the various family businesses, while Bill has achieved success as a film producer. (Bob Pohlad is a friend whom I greatly admire.) The family is notable for its active involvement in the civic life of Minneapolis and for its philanthropic support of numerous local nonprofit organizations through the Pohlad Family Foundation.

Jim Pohlad is building a house on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. Coleman calls it “Pohlad’s Palace.” It’s the ostensible subject of Coleman’s column. The house is designed to be too large to suit Coleman’s taste — 8,300 square feet. Other than expressing his distaste for the Pohlads, the point of the column is hard to articulate. You take a shot at it.

Jim Pohlad could live anywhere in the metropolitan Twin Cities. Most Twin Cities residents of his means choose to buy or build houses outside the cities of St. Paul or Minneapolis in Minneapolis suburbs such as Edina and Wayzata or St. Paul suburbs such as White Bear Lake and Dellwood. Coleman apparently prefers it that way.

Even so, Coleman’s column withholds relevant information that belies its theme. Minneapolis’s lakeside homes are traditionally “large,” as Coleman measures these things. Yesterday I talked to Debbie McNally, who is Jim Pohlad’s realtor and specializes in upscale lakeside property. She cites several lakeside houses to make the point that Jim’s planned house is not large by historic lakeside standards.
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Debbie is also the listing agent of the famous Mary Tyler Moore house on Kenwood Parkway and 21st, just off the Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis (above). For comparative purposes, using an example that everyone can understand, Debbie notes that the Mary Tyler Moore house runs to 9,839 square feet.

Coleman’s column makes Jim Pohlad’s planned house sound like the rape of Croatia, yet there is no reason to believe that it will not suit its neighborhood more appropriately than the five condominiums that were to be constructed in its place. This may come as a great shock to Star Tribune readers, but the Minneapolis lakes are surrounded by wealthy people living in large houses! It is for such scoops that the Star Tribune pays Coleman the big bucks.

I guess Coleman doesn’t like it that way. Coleman would apparently prefer that they move out to the suburbs and that folks such as Jim Pohlad make their substantial contribution to the real estate tax base of the city somewhere else. It’s a funny position for a paper’s metro columnist to take, but there you have it.

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