Historic building in Virginia could be facing demolition - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Historic building in Virginia could be facing demolition

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VIRGINIA, MN -

St. Louis County's plan to demolish the Northland Building in Virginia has been in the works for a number of years - but the plan requires some big changes for the city. 

"We can't build this building, to our needs, without closing the street and demolishing the building," said Director of Property Management for St. Louis County, Tony Mancuso. 

County officials say the staff has outgrown the building, and they can no longer meet the needs of their customers, and the cost to upkeep and upgrade the building is too great.

They plan to tear it down, build a new one in the adjacent parking lot, and place the parking lot where the building currently stands. 

"By all our professional assessments, that we've had people come and look, the building has served it's life cycle. To retrofit it, it would not be the best use of county funds for the long term," said Mancuso. 

While the county wants to tear down this nearly 100 year old building, and build a fresh and new one, the mayor of Virginia says residents are saying the building, built in 1923, adds to the historic charm of downtown Virginia. 

"To demolish a building that could be salvageable, is a concern for many people," said Larry Cuffe Jr, mayor of Virginia. 

The city has already approved a demolition permit for the project. However, the plan can not move forward without a key vote. 

"In order to build this facility the way they want it, they're asking the city council to vote to vacate the 300 block of first street south," said Cuffe. 

Cuffe said he doesn't want to see the building go, but if the county isn't able to build a new building, he says they may consider building one in a neighboring city.

"I think the economic vitality of downtown would be significantly diminished, and would be devastating, if they were to move their offices," said Cuffe. 

While the building is on the register of National Historic Places, Cuffe says it has been home to many different organizations through the years, which has lead to several remodels and upgrades, removing much of what made it a historic building. 

The county did put the building up for sale previously, but there were no interested buyers. After that time, the county offered to sell it to the city for the price of $1. The city passed, and Cuffe says that's because it would not have been financially beneficial to own and operate the building. 

The plan can not move forward without a four-fifths majority vote from the city council to vacate the one block of first avenue. 

Without a vote by city council, the county could ask a district judge to step in, and over rule. However, the mayor of Virginia says the county has given no indication they would do so. 

There will be a public hearing, in Virginia on October 3rd.

The city council will vote whether to remove the street immediately following the public hearing. 

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