Hobbit booted from downtown office space

  • Article by: SUZANNE ZIEGLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 11, 2010 - 10:33 PM

The travel agency must be out by Friday, according to eviction proceedings.

When Hobbit Travel closed in December, it indicated that it might reopen again. Now, that appears to be even more of a long shot.

Hobbit's only remaining location -- in downtown Minneapolis -- is closing for good Friday under an agreement reached in eviction proceedings.

Hobbit agreed to pay its landlord, 510 Marquette Place, $20,000 for late December rent and fees by Jan. 20 and has to be out of the space by 5 p.m. Friday, according to documents filed in Hennepin County Court. The company also failed to pay its April, May and June rent on time, documents show.

On Thursday, access to Hobbit's third-floor office suite was closed. But moving boxes could be seen and several computers were lined up on the floor.

Citing financial difficulties and the economy, Hobbit shut down Dec. 22, leaving thousands of customers scrambling to see if their trips were still on. Many learned that Hobbit never forwarded their payment to airlines or cruise companies.

At the time, owner George Wozniak said he hoped to find additional financing or a strategic partner to resume operations. But a turnaround advisory firm brought in last fall is no longer working for Hobbit.

Hobbit did partially reopen for a short time. It brought in a skeleton crew on Jan. 25 to answer phones and e-mails from customers who paid in cash or could not get a refund from their credit-card companies. Hobbit spokesman Jon Austin said Thursday that the final disposition of the company "is still undetermined at this point."

Hobbit Travel has been on a downhill slide since at least last spring, when it cut its staff in half and closed two offices. Under the weight of millions of dollars of debt, Wozniak is being forced to sell his personal properties, including his home in St. Paul, which just went on the market for $3.5 million.

Suzanne Ziegler • 612-673-1707

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