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2 Years Since Fire Tears Through Kozy; Plans for the Future

Posted at: 11/15/2012 9:26 PM
Updated at: 11/15/2012 10:18 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

nullIt was about 10 o’clock on the night of November 15, 2010, when firefighters arrived at a burning Kozy Bar and Apartment building in downtown Duluth. Crews worked into the early morning hours to put out the flames, but in the end, it was too damaged to allow residents back inside.

Dozens of people lost their homes that night.

Since then, a temporary roof has been installed, and debris left inside following the fire has been cleared, according to Mike Conlan, one of the men involved in the redesign and reconstruction process at the damaged building. He’s also the former Director of Planning and Development for the city of Duluth.

There isn’t any work happening inside now, and there likely won’t be for many months, but Conlan tells Eyewitness News when the work is done in about two years, the building will look much different than it has in the recent years.

"We're trying to take it back to the original Victorian look of what it looked like 125 years ago,” he said.

Conlan is hoping a historic tax credit will help fund the about $8 million renovation project, but he said that means no work will happen until the State of Minnesota and the National Parks Service give the OK.

“It's a treasure of the community and it is in jeopardy right now which is why we need to do this project."

Conlan said prior to the fire, 50 units were crammed into the building. He said it housed just two bathrooms, and a bar.

The new plans, according to Conlan, call for 34 units, all with bathrooms, and no bar. "It wasn't exactly a symbiotic relationship to have the bar, then just have people go upstairs after a day of drinking."

Eyewitness News has reported that the Kozy saw hundreds of police calls over the course of several years, and that it had a bad reputation with business owners and authorities. Five years ago the city of Duluth even fined the Kozy Bar for allegedly over-serving customers.

Adding a new section to the rear part of the building, to allow for bigger units, is also a part of the plans, Conlan said.

A portion of the front of the building will be removed as well. Conlan said the Kozy will still serve as low income housing, but after planned changes, says "it will be a different environment--a very different from what it was before."

Conlan said construction could begin as soon as the spring of 2013, and wrap up within about two years.