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Rush Nightclub’s ‘deplorable conditions’ has Cottage Grove seeking legal action for removal

The Rush Nightclub, once a popular gathering spot for locals, is likely facing demolition after years of neglect created unsanitary and unsafe conditions. The city of Cottage Grove is taking legal action against the property owner to either repair or remove the building. (Bulletin file photo)

A once-popular nightclub in Cottage Grove is facing demolition after years of neglect left it in a condition the city says is nearly impossible to repair.

The former Rush Nightclub, which first opened in 1974 as a roller rink, is literally rotting away following an eight-year vacancy during which burst water pipes, a large hole in the roof, and extensive mold growth severely compromised the integrity of the building. So much so that the city is taking legal action to address what City Attorney Kori Land said were “deplorable conditions” inside the condemned building.

“This is a pretty severe remedy that we’re requesting,” Land told the City Council Wednesday. “The conditions of a property have to be pretty severe before we’d ask to authorize a resolution to order the repair or the demolition of a property. Unfortunately this property, which has been iconic in the city of Cottage Grove, has reached that condition.”

The city has reached out to Entertainment Concepts, the owner of the former nightclub, who Land said has made no attempts to remedy the problems, and is ordering the owner to either repair the building or remove it.

The Rush recaptured the attention of the city because it was discovered that the current owner was showing the building to potential tenants, as well as to possible buyers. This was especially concerning, Land said, because since the operation closed in 2007, only one building permit has been issued for minor repair work that has not been inspected.

“There’s a concern that members of the public were entering and inspecting this building and not knowing the condition of it, whether or not it’s safe,” she said.

Earlier this month, the city’s building inspector and fire marshal conducted a brief inspection of the building and discovered a large hole in the roof and a dismantled exterior HVAC system. Upon an interior inspection, officials also discovered there was no water service connected, significant dilapidation to the floors, walls, and ceiling, and exposed electrical panels and wires. And with no mold abatement since 2008, Land said black and white mold growth was significant.

“The most alarming was that they discovered there was actually still power to the building,” Land said. “Despite the fact that they have been told to shut off all utilities they were still supplying power to the building.”

An administrative search warrant was issued by Washington County to allow officials to conduct a more thorough inspection of the building, which occurred last week and further confirmed the building’s “unbelieveable state of disrepair,” Land said.

According to state law, a city has the authority to request a property to be repaired or removed if it poses a safety hazard to the public. However, with the existing exterior and interior conditions the way they are, City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said it will likely be a demolition project.

Schroeder said estimated demolition costs hover around $100,000, but said repairs will far exceed that. The owner is facing over two dozen required repairs to complete by March 18, or the city can take further action to abate the property.

The Rush has been an eyesore for the city’s West Point Douglas Road corridor since its closure, and there have been a number of attempts to redevelop the property but none have panned out.

Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said forcing the owner to address the issues or face demolition is the first step in cleaning up the highly visible area for future development.