Home > Duluth Board Denies Seaway Hotel Condemnation Appeal
Duluth Board Denies Seaway Hotel Condemnation Appeal
FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT
Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 7:59pm
Duluth, MN, USA -
DULUTH-An attorney representing Seaway Hotel owner Rick Caya asked "why now?" about a condemnation order that would force more than 60 tenants out of their apartments on Wednesday afternoon."What we know is that the condition of the building has not significantly changed with respect to these items since 2010. This is not a new problem," attorney Larry Nord said.Duluth's "Building Appeal Board", however, denied the owner's request for an extension on repairs this afternoon but people living there will not be put onto the street yet.People living at the Seaway Hotel returned home after hearing the arguments for and against a "Condemnation for Human Habitation Order" posted in mid–July."I was very depressed because we didn't know where we were going to go or stay," Francisco Perez, who lives on the Seaway's third floor, said."One of the questions that needs to be asked that I don't have an answer for because I couldn't get it is what really is wrong and why now?" Nord said.Nord, who spoke on behalf of building owner Rick Caya, conceded that the building has major problems including water damage and black mold.He alleges, however, that the condemnation order comes only after inspectors became frustrated with the pace of repairs – not because of the actual living situation."Are these the kinds of repairs that can happen immediately? No they're not. You know, this is a major project undertaking," Nord said.Duluth Fire Chief John Strongitharm, who said the building owner was given a list of more than 60 code violations in 2010, said he disagrees."When you say nothing's changed I'd have to argue that only because every time it rains, it changes. The more water that gets into the building, the more water gets into the walls," Strongitharm said."Originally there were only one or two rooms on the third floor that couldn't be used. Then it went to three. And then it went to more and then the whole floor. Slowly but surely the rain is eating that building up," Strongitharm said."The city isn't looking at putting anybody out other than for life safety issues," construction inspector Dan Nelson said.More than 60 tenants live in the building and while board members are criticized by residents for possibly turning them onto the streets, President Jon Helstrom said their decision must stay within the building code."We deal with the idea of habitation on this condemnation appeal and that's the only thing we deal with," Helstrom said.Seaway owner, Rick Caya, has 15 days to appeal the decision. It would then go to the city council. Tenants are allowed to stay in the building until then.