A settlement has been reached between St. Paul and a couple that had sued the city for blocking their plan to demolish a Crocus Hill house to clear the way for a structure more suited for their son, who has physical and developmental disabilities.
Under the terms of the settlement, the city will release the demolition permit to the couple, City Attorney Samuel Clark said. In return, owners Fred and Renee Pritzker must arrange for photographic documentation of the house before it comes down.
The house, at 27 Crocus Place, is not itself designated as a historic structure. But it sits within the Historic Hill District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The city never made the argument that it has the legal authority to prevent the demolition, only that we had the authority to require the [documentation] before demolition,” Clark said.
The settlement, which came at no cost to either party, is “really a positive outcome for both sides,” he said.
Ramsey County District Judge Robert Awsumb issued a temporary injunction two weeks ago allowing the Pritzkers to proceed with demolition, but stayed the order to allow both sides time to arrive at an agreement.
Awsumb noted that the couple invested more than $1 million in the project after demolition was initially approved, only to have the city turn around and suspend the permit.
“The court finds the continued harm to plaintiffs by delaying the demolition would far outweigh the potential harm to the city,” the judge wrote.
The Pritzkers, who live in the neighborhood, want to build a new house on the site for their 30-year-old son Jacob, who requires round-the-clock care. They judged the current home impractical for his use.
They sued in February, alleging that the permit suspension was an act of discrimination that violated their constitutional rights and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.