Duluth Council Approves DEDA Reserve for Kozy Fix-Up, Funding Request for Lasting Warming/Hygiene Facility

A resolution calling for part of Duluth's CARES Act money for the multi-year warming center/hygiene facility, and one for DEDA's money in case a court orders action on the Kozy.

DULUTH, Minn.- On Monday the Duluth City Council unanimously passed two resolutions involving federal funding for a multi-year warming shelter and hygiene facility, and DEDA funding in case a court asks the city to work on the run-down Kozy Bar and Apartments Building.

All councilors approved a resolution from Councilors Roz Randorf and Vice President Renee Van Nett calling for up to $400,000 of the city’s $1.3 million CARES Act funding for a multi-year warming shelter and 24/7 hygiene facility.

The location at the top of councilors’ list: the Lincoln Park Community Center. The CARES Act Funding cannot be used to purchase a new building, according to Councilor Randorf, and it must be COVID-19 related.

So, she said, the money can be used at an existing place owned by the city or an agency — like CHUM, HRA, or the Damiano Center — to add features like bathrooms and showers.

Councilor Van Nett told city taxpayers during Monday’s council meeting that since this calls for federal funding, the city can do this.

“For the taxpayer who may think that this is out of our range to do, it’s not,” she said. “I believe that at least for me and my duty to help people who need the step up and not just the hand up and some who need the help.”

Councilor Randorf said the approval process is expected to take months and it’ll likely be March or April when work can begin on the chosen facility.

Friday, she said, city officials will tour the Lincoln Park Community Center to check how feasible it is with capacity and open space.

Meanwhile, when it comes to the condemned Kozy Bar and Apartments the Council was also unanimous — but not as happily.

A proposal from the Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA) was approved for $135,000 in case the district court interprets a ruling by the State Court of Appeals that the city has to shore it up.

In the ruling the Appeals Court said that DEDA was required “to perform all maintenance and repairs necessary to prevent the property‚Äôs further deterioration.”

Since tax forfeiture forced the building out of the hands of former Eric Ringsred and into the hands of DEDA, litigation has gone back and forth as Ringsred has fought to save it as preserving a historic site.

The City was ready to demolish the blighted Pastoret Terrace (better known as the Kozy) until the Appeals Court’s August decision.

At Monday’s meeting, councilors didn’t mince their words expressing that the Kozy long overstayed its welcome and even its historic status.

“This Council and the City Administration have no desire and have no wish to spend one cent more trying to save a building that we believe cannot be saved,” Second District Councilor Joel Sipress said Monday.

But Ringsred and his legal battles, city officials said, are the only things keeping it aging and falling apart — a condition they say was due to Ringsred’s neglect.

None of that $135,000 councilors said, will be used until a court orders a fix-up.

“The city has been sued by a private citizen to prevent the demolition of the building and the court has told the city you can’t demolish the building until this works it way through court and the court says you can demolish it,” Sipress said.

Once again the Kozy was ravaged by another fire last week which collapsed most of the roof.

The cause of that fire is still under investigation as firefighters work to find a way to safely enter and assess the structurally unsound building.

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