MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A popular HGTV reality host who once called Minneapolis home is facing an unpleasant reality of her own.
A WCCO investigation has found Nicole Curtis could be in legal trouble for an unfinished project and unpaid bills.
One company has walked away from one of Curtis’s properties in north Minneapolis after they say they were not paid for months.
There is no shortage of fun in the backyard of Joe Lundberg’s Hillside Avenue home. But that laughing stops at the fence line.
Lundberg lives next door to one of Nicole Curtis’s north Minneapolis homes.
“She doesn’t have to deal with this. We have to do deal with this!” Lundberg said. “We had high hopes and it didn’t turn out to be even close.”
Curtis posted pictures on Facebook in the summer of 2012 with the words “The Hillside home was set for demo and this will be a Nicole Curtis house this fall.”
Almost three years have passed since. Curtis says it took more than a year for the City of Minneapolis to complete the sale.
Construction materials sit in piles outside. Inside, contractors told us water is leaking through the roof.
John Jepsen’s structural shoring and carpentry business started working with Curtis three years ago.
“It’s kind of going backwards and it’s sad,” Jepsen said.
His company has helped finish four properties for “Rehab Addict,” one of HGTV’s highest-rated shows. Jepsen started working on the Hillside property more than a year ago.
The house is only in Curtis’s name. She says only her personal money is involved. Her show has no stake in the property. Jepsen says when Curtis stopped paying, he had no choice but to leave the site.
An invoice from February shows he’s been trying to collect $25,000 from Curtis for work he says his crew has completed.
“It’s a considerable amount of money that we’re owed and we just want to be paid for the work we did,” Jepsen said.
Curtis skyped with WCCO on Thursday from Detroit, where she now spends most of her time.
She disputes owing Jepsen anything.
“John has been paid for all services performed and completed,” Curtis said.
She added that his company left the job site unsecure.
But Jepsen told WCCO the property was in good condition when he walked away, and the fence was chained and locked. He said it’s no longer his job to look after it since he hasn’t been paid.
Curtis admits Hillside is taking longer than she thought but she intends to finish it.
“I’ve never said to the community we’re not going to do this. What I’ve said is you need to be supportive of this and quit criticizing it because we’re doing the best that we can,” Curtis said.
Jepsen has had reservations about coming forward, potentially facing a backlash from the reality star’s popularity on social media.
“Yeah, there is that fear, but, you know, I’m a big boy, I can handle it,” Jepsen said. “The truth is the truth.”
Neighbors told WCCO they’ve seen the backlash themselves when they posted on Facebook, asking Curtis what’s been going on with the property.
Her followers called them cowards and apologized to Curtis for having to deal with their rudeness.
Curtis says she can’t be responsible for everything her million followers say.
It is a property saved from the wrecking ball, but it is still without the ending a neighborhood had hoped for.
“I don’t understand why she thinks it’s OK,” Lundberg said.
WCCO found Jepsen isn’t the first person to say he’s had trouble getting paid by Curtis.
A plumber on a different project, an employee and most recently a personal assistant filed small-claims cases in court. Curtis has paid all but the most recent.
She told WCCO she wasn’t aware of that one, and said in her business, this kind of litigation comes with the territory.
Jepsen is now in the process of filing a lien on the Hillside property to get his money.