Council Approves Demolition of Kozy; Former Owner Still Determined to Stop Wrecking Ball

Former owner Eric Ringsred didn't come up with the $50,000 bond court required to keep building up.

DULUTH, Minn.- The City of Duluth is the closest its ever been to tearing down the condemned Kozy building on East First Street.

DEDA owns the building, and the Council voted to approve DEDA’s decision to demolish the building that’s sat vacant for nearly a decade.

The council voted unanimously, 8-0 with Councilor Russ absent, to demolish the structure. But they didn’t do so lightly.

“We shouldn’t take any joy in this and I think it’s very unfortunate that it’s reached this point,” said Councilor Joel Sipress. “Not everything old is valuable, but communities do have incredibly valuable architectural resources that once lost can never be regained.

Councilors said they recognize the city will be losing very historic architecture, but the building’s reached the end of its life.

“It’ll be shame to lose it,” said the building’s former owner Eric Ringsred. “I think I feel that way and I think other people feel that way.”

Ringsred, who’s been fighting for 10 years to keep his former building standing has, for right now, lost their fight.

“Big waste of my time and everybody else’s time,” he said.

He could’ve delayed the demolition by paying a $50,000 appeals bond with the court, who ultimately concluded the building should be torn down. But he didn’t come up with the money.

The Kozy Bar and Apartments were condemned after a fire in 2010 destroyed much of the building. Since then, it’s sat in disrepair.

“Land is valuable, space is valuable, and the safety of the community is valuable,” Council President Anderson said.

As it’s aged, the building is literally crumbling onto its surroundings, with falling bricks nearly crushing pedestrians. “Lately the city’s had to take action to secure the building so that it’s not causing a harm to people who are walking by on the street,” said Anderson.

With a heavy heart, the council sealed the building’s fate.

“After being able to tour the building, going inside, it’s unfortunately clear that this building has, needs to come down,” Councilor Zack Filipovich said.

Ringsred is interested to see what they do with the property next.

“The big question is what’s to be done with the building as far as renovation goes,” he said. “It can’t stand the way it is. And obviously the city will fight any developer that wants to renovate the building.”

He told FOX 21 that he filed a second motion, challenging the city’s ownership of the building, as a last-chance effort to stop demolition.

According to City Attorney Gunnar Johnson, that court case could come up in a hearing as soon as tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Anderson hopes pieces of the historic architecture can be preserved. “That there may be pieces of those structure that will be saved or those beautiful brownstones that are there, perhaps somebody will take them and repurpose them somewhere else.”

And Councilors said they, and the city, should learn from this going forward.

“The greenest building is the one that’s already standing,” Filipovich said.

According to City Attorney Gunnar Johnson, Ringsred’s last-ditch effort court case could come up in a hearing as soon as tomorrow.

The judge could take it into consideration, or give the official green light for the wrecking ball to drop.

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