The demolition of the Pastorate Terrace, known as the Kozy building is on hold after a judge granted a temporary injunction this week.
This comes not long after Duluth Economic Development Authority recommended the building be demolished earlier this year.
“If we didn’t get this put in place, they [the city] would be able to get their demolition permits and demolish the building, which would completely make our case moot,” said Miles Ringsred, the attorney representing his father Eric Ringsred, and an organization called Respect Starts Here in lawsuits against the city and the Duluth Economic Development Authority.
The lawsuit is seeking to preserve the building.
Ringsred claims there are developers interesting in redeveloping the building and preserving its historic nature.
“We feel that the city has not legitimately considered these, and given it to the public, and to other officials to really weigh what this building could be,” said Ringsred.
The building has been vacant for several years, and on the market for about 2 years. It has been deemed inhabitable, as it has been damaged by fires over the years.
The city attorney, Gunnar Johnson, says the city has tried to find a developer to make the property economically viable.
“We’ve gone through that process, and not been able to find a developer,” he said.
While the demolition is on hold, the city can still proceed with planning.
“The judge in his order that he recently issued, said specifically that the city is allowed to continue soliciting bids, and the planning process for demolishing that building,” said Johnson.
Ringsred believes the processes haven’t been thorough enough, saying the city is violating the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act.
“That act has given people within Minnesota the right to protect environmental resources,” said Ringsred, “which includes historical resources like the pastorate,” he said.
Johnson refutes that saying their environmental assessment worksheet and other documents are adequate.
“The process that we’ve gone through with DEDA, through the planning commission, through a long EAW process, has lead us to where we are today,” said Johnson.
Johnson says a Minnesota Housing Financing Agency Report shows there isn’t enough bang for the buck in the Kozy Property to warrant the tax credits the plaintiffs want a developer to use to preserve the building.
“We feel that the record is clear that the city has done everything necessary, everything required to get to where we are at this point,” said Johnson.
The judge handling the case also ordered the plaintiffs to post a $50,000 bond by Friday.
Eric Ringsred lost ownership of the building some time ago to St. Louis County and later DEDA through tax forfeiture after falling behind on payments.
The matter is due back in court on November 15th.