Back in January, the wonderfully bureaucratic-sounding Minnesota Department of Administration began home hunting for Gov. Tim Walz. The 110-year-old St. Paul Governor's Mansion needs $6.3 million in repairs/updates and, thus, the state's first family—Walz, wife Gwen, cat Afton, dog Scout—needs a place to stay through September 2024. But not just any ol' place, per Minnesota law: "The governor's residence must be used for official ceremonial functions of the state, and to provide suitable living quarters for the governor of the state."
On Friday, the agency inked an 18-month lease on a six-bedroom, five-bathroom, 7,952-square-foot lake house in Sunfish Lake. But not just any ol' suburban mansion, per MPR News: The jumbo estate at 25 Sunny Side Ln. belongs to failed U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden, the loaded Republican businessman who attempted to unseat Sen. Al Franken in 2014.
Taxpayers will now be paying McFadden $17,326 monthly rent to host the Walz family, MPR reports, and the public is also on the hook for $15,000 in new carpeting. (The Walzes sold their Mankato home in 2019 after moving into their state-owned Summit Avenue mansion.) Considering Minnesota's simultaneous housing affordability and homelessness crises, one could make a justifiable case that the optics stink. Then again, Walz was already living in a 16,000-square-foot house with nine fireplaces, and we are already accustomed to living in the new Gilded Age.
But! The ruling class can't take away our freedom to make fun of their tacky, dated housing choices.
In the case of McFadden's, you're looking at a home that screams "I was constructed in 1990." We're talking bulbous stone fireplaces, oceans of beige carpeting, honey oak baseboards and window trim, low-end Home Depot-y lighting fixtures plus recessed lighting galore, and perhaps the rattiest leather couch this real estate reporter has encountered in a home listing. There's motivational signage in the laundry room; there are decorative bowls filled with large pinecones. It's no surprise the home has popped on and off the market since 2020 (most recently at $1.97 million) without attracting any buyers; it was last purchased for $1.3 million in 2004, according to county records.
That said: The three-and-a-half acre wooded grounds are lovely, and it's neat that 330-pound ex-Viking Linval Joseph lives a couple houses away. The idea of visiting dignitaries admiring the nose tackle's Super Bowl XLVI ring during cookouts? A pleasant visual. And if we're to believe this list of famous past visitors to the Governor's Mansion, Walz's new lake digs could play host to a far-flung collection of entertainers and athletes. Imagine Brock Lesnar, Steve Guttenberg, Kevin Garnett, and Mexican President Vicente Fox returning—preferably all at once—to party with the governor of Minnesota...
Our aesthetic quibbles aside, 25 Sunny Side Ln. is a semi-convenient 14-minute drive from the State Capitol. Is the truly mind-blowing collections of car dealerships just across Hwy. 62 from it the densest concentration of auto dealers in the Twin Cities? That's a blog for another day.