Defenders of the fire-damaged Paul Robeson Ballroom and Pastoret Terrace buildings — formerly home to the Kozy Bar — asked District Court Judge Eric Hylden to consider an unconventional payment plan as they sought to save the structures from destruction Tuesday afternoon.
Miles Ringsred, an attorney representing a group of local preservationists including his father, asked Hylden for a temporary restraining order and acknowledged that nothing is currently protecting the historic buildings from demolition.
Hylden has already approved a stay to keep the city of Duluth from moving forward with its plans to demolish the dilapidated buildings, which have been condemned for human habitation since a 2010 fire. But that stay was to go into effect only if and when
Miles Ringsred's clients — Dr. Eric Ringsred and a group called Respect Starts Here — posted a $50,000 appeal bond.
So far, however, Miles Ringsred said the parties have been unable to scrape together the necessary funds, despite their "diligent" efforts. The latest bond requirement comes on top of an initial $50,000 bond the plaintiffs put down as they sought to shield the buildings at the corner of First Street and Second Avenue East from destruction.
But Miles Ringsred proposed an alternative Tuesday afternoon. He said a concerned citizen had offered $25,000 to help save the buildings and asked the court to accept a $25,000 cashier's check as "a downpayment" toward the appeal bond, with the remainder to be paid in "installments" over the next six months.
Hylden suggested that the plaintiffs had already had sufficient time to raise the needed funds. "If you can't do it within 20 days, is more time going to result in a different outcome?" he asked.
Miles Ringsred responded that additional time would help.
Hylden noted that his ruling in support of the city's plans to tear down the abandoned buildings came out in October, and if the plaintiffs planned to appeal, as they now have, they should have anticipated additional security would be required.
Alternatively, Miles Ringsred asked Hylden to consider securing the bond with a property mortgage.
But Hylden expressed little interest in the court administrator's office getting into the mortgage business.
Elizabeth Sellers, an assistant city attorney for Duluth, said the city wants to remove the buildings in the interest of protecting public safety and removing blight that detracts from the neighborhood.
William Paul, an attorney for Paul King, a previous owner of the Pastoret Terrace and Paul Robeson Ballroom, also called for a restraining order, to protect his client's right to have his case heard before the buildings are reduced to rubble.
Hylden said he would take the requests for a restraining order under advisement, pledging to issue a decision "as soon as I can."
"But I can't tell you when that will be," he said.