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A quick resolution seems unlikely in the longstanding dispute between Cedar Isles condominium homeowners and the Metropolitan Council, which is building a tunnel for Southwest light-rail trains within inches of their homes.

"This is a lifelong commitment," said Vanne Owens Hayes, president of the condos' homeowners association.

Construction of the half-mile long tunnel in the narrow Kenilworth Corridor has resulted in cracks in the condo building's hallway and lobby, and its underground parking garage was flooded after a water main break in 2022.

Beyond that, residents say there has been incessant noise, vibrations and dust, not to mention diminished property values and increasing insurance costs since construction of the Green Line extension began nearly five years ago.

Last week, Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle declared the worst of the tunnel construction near the unique condominium structure was over. "We've gone through the most difficult part," he said.

But a final settlement with the condo owners likely won't be known until construction of the 14.5-mile line between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie is completed in 2027. While the line is about 75% complete, the Kenilworth tunnel is only halfway finished.

"Whether the worst of it is over is a matter of degree," said Owens Hayes. "It doesn't mean that what happens now isn't still disruptive."

Difficulty building the tunnel has been a major cause of the project's delays and ballooning budget, which now stands at $2.7 billion. While the council announced a plan last month to cover a budget shortfall of up to $335 million, any settlement with the Cedar Isles homeowners will be extra — and no one knows how much that will be.

Condo owners and the council have been engaged in a mediation process led by Kathleen Blatz, former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Both the council and homeowners association have been tight-lipped about the results so far.

"The mediation process is ongoing, so the Met Council cannot comment at this time," said spokeswoman Terri Dresen. Zelle said talks have helped to avert litigation.

The council has paid homeowners $318,400 for a construction easement, plus an additional $53,083 to cover the association's fees for legal and expert advice, according to documents filed in Hennepin County District Court. The council forked over another $1,200 so a resident disrupted by the construction could work offsite.

The council is currently in the process of updating its budget for Southwest, and any costs related to a settlement with Cedar Isles homeowners would be drawn from contingency funds, said Nick Thompson, Metro Transit's deputy general manager of Capital Programs, during a meeting last week. A final budget for Southwest won't be known until early next year.

Built originally as grain silos in the early 20th century, the unusual Cedar Isles structure towering over the Kenilworth Trail was reconfigured into 109 condos in the 1980s. After interior cracks were discovered in early 2022, the council hired a forensic engineering firm to conduct an investigation.

Socotec Engineering Inc. concluded that the cracks resulted largely from seasonal temperature swings that caused the building to shift. Construction of the nearby Southwest tunnel had little to do with the damage, the firm said, although some homeowners were skeptical of the findings.

The firm also declared the structure safe for residents.

"The best-case scenario would have been to put the line somewhere else," Owens Hayes said. "We missed that, so for now, we want to get restored to the quality of life we had before [Southwest] entered our lives, and the sooner the better."