A St. Paul family may proceed with the controversial demolition of a Crocus Hill house so they can build a new home for their handicapped son, a judge ruled Monday.
The decision is a relief for Fred and Renee Pritzker, who had been assured by city officials that they could tear down the house at 27 Crocus Place before they bought it last year — only to have the city renege and suspend their demolition permit.
The city considers the house a "contributing" structure to the Historic Hill District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
"This has been a very frustrating, unnecessary ordeal," Fred Pritzker said Monday. "Frankly, we wanted to be treated fairly, and we want people going forward to be treated fairly, and that's what this is really about."
Ramsey County District Judge Robert Awsumb on Monday granted a temporary injunction against the city. He noted that the Pritzkers had addressed potential issues based on the historic district, and had invested more than $1 million toward the purchase and demolition based on the city's initial approval.
"The court finds the continued harm to plaintiffs by delaying the demolition would far outweigh the potential harm to the city," he wrote.
The Pritzkers, who have lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, want to build a new house for their 30-year-old son, Jacob, who is physically and developmentally disabled and requires round-the-clock care. The current house is impractical for him, they said.
Demolition can begin in late April after the Pritzkers and city "consider conditions for proceeding," such as possible photographic documentation of the house. The couple had planned to have the new house completed by 2016 but said the legal fight has pushed it back at least a year.
In court, the city said it would ultimately allow the demolition but argued that an environmental assessment was needed before the house could come down, a detail officials left out until after issuing and then suspending the permit.
The Pritzkers took the city to court in February, alleging that officials had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other protections, by suspending the permit.