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Court: Tear down old Kmart

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County District Court granted the city of Worthington on Thursday the right to proceed with the demolition of the former K-Mart building.

Honorable Judge Gordon Moore sided with the city, stating the structure “appears hazardous, is obsolete and has essentially been abandoned.”

The Worthington City Council, during its June 9 meeting, approved a motion to file a resolution, along a report on the property completed by Wenzel Engineering, to Nobles County District Court to seek the issuance of a further court order for demolition of the building.

Worthington City Attorney Mark Shepherd represented the city at the hearing. No representative from Northland Mall Realty LLC was present.

Shepherd told the court he had made attempts to contact someone from Northland Mall’s ownership.

“On Monday, I received a call from an attorney in Minneapolis indicating that he had received a fax from (Mike) Kohen, a representative from Northland Mall Realty, who had asked him for a retainer,” Shepherd explained. “On Tuesday, that attorney contacted me to tell me that he was not representing Mr. Kohen, and I haven’t had any response from anyone from Northland Mall Realty LLC since.”

Northland Mall Realty LLC now has an opportunity to demolish the building itself until July 11. If it opts to respond on or before that date and state it will tear down structure itself, it must pay a bond of $379,764 and have the building demolished by Aug. 14.

If no one from Northland Mall responds by July 11, the city can go forth with the proceedings to demolish the building.

Shepherd said demolishing the building was the most “economical solution.”

Wenzel Engineering submitted its final structural report on the former K-Mart building on May 29. The report estimated the cost to renovate the space to a functional retail space at $3.47 million, while demolition would cost approximately $253,000.

“There may be some environmental studies that may be done before and after the demolition that could increase the cost, but it will still cost no more than $300,000 to demolish the building — less than a tenth of the cost to restore it,” Shepherd explained.

Judge Moore agreed, adding that the building assessment “paints a bleak picture” for the former Kmart site.

In addition to the demolition of the building, there is a provision that states the city may sell any valuable materials salvaged from the building. Brad Chapulis, director of community and economic development for the city of Worthington, addressed the court on this matter.

“I haven’t been in the building since April with the engineering team,” he said. “ At that point in time, the personal property inside was worthless. However, the mall’s vehicles are stored in there, and there is probably some worth in scrap metal.” 

Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark gave a brief statement on his reaction to the ruling.

“It’s great to see this matter continue to see progress and to continue to see the problems in the community being addressed,” Clark said. “We’re going to keep on it, and we’re not going to rest until this is solved for the community.”

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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