Judge: Former Kozy Building at ‘the end of the line’

Historic Building gets green light from court to be demolished.

DULUTH, Minn.- A Saint Louis County judge has ruled the condemned Kozy building on East First Street in downtown Duluth should be torn down.

The building has been in the middle of court battles for three years, with the City of Duluth wanting to tear it down and open the property to developers.

“You can see the trees growing out of this building, you can see the graffiti, you can see the pigeons flying around,” said Gunnar Johnson, Duluth City Attorney.

On the other side, the former owner of the building, Dr. Eric Ringsred, and a local citizens group believe the Kozy should be preserved as an historic site.

Judge Eric Hylden’s Friday decision dissolves the previous court injunction against the City, which has kept them from demolishing the building.

In the ruling Hylden is quoted: “The Kozy has come to the end of the line. With no feasible and prudent option for historic renovation, it must come down.”

This comes as a victory for the City of Duluth, who has been fighting for demolition since fire gutted parts of the building in 2010.

“It’s not a point of celebration, it’s a point of moving forward with the process,” Attorney Johnson said.

The new decision calls for a 30-day waiting period. After that time passes, the City has the green light to demolish.

“We can’t control what the other side does, and it is possible that they will bring additional legal effects to slow down this process–and we’ll continue to address those as they come forward,” said Johnson.

Ringsred lost ownership of the building after failing to pay taxes.

While the judge noted some attempts by Ringsred to renovate, he said there is “no feasible and prudent option for historic renovation” for the building.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson released a statement on the decision it reads:

“It is in the best interest of the community to reactivate this site with new construction. I have heard frequently from residents who are eager to see something new and positive happen at this corner. This decision helps make that happen.”

Ringsred did not respond to a request for comment.

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