City will try again to sell old Melba Street firehouse

The auctioneer was there; the mayor was there; some curious residents were there, but no one showed up to bid on the old Melba Street firehouse when the city tried to auction it off in May.

A couple of people who toured the old Station 6 Firehouse said they thought the starting bid of $477,000 was a bit high and it kept them from entertaining any serious thoughts about bidding.

This week the Board of Aldermen approved a plan to try selling the building again, this time with no minimum bid.

“This time it will be a sealed bid without a floor,” Mayor Ben Blake said. “But the caveat is that the winning bid will have to be approved by this board. So you will see this again.”

Mike Papper, who lives in the condominiums next door to the firehouse, was at the auction in May and he said he could have pictured the building housing a small brewery, with offices and living space upstairs.

He would have considered bidding, “if the price was right,” and for him that might have been somewhere in the two hundred thousands, especially if he was looking at the firehouse for an investment property.

David Kuehn looked around the building in May too, really out of curiosity because he lives in the old Spring Street Firehouse in Devon, which he bought at a city auction about 10 years ago.

The starting bid on that property was lower, and he got it for $160,000. Then he put in a kitchen and bathroom and turned it into a house.

With 2,000 square feet, it's spacious, and that's what he likes about living in an old converted firehouse. “It's big, it has high ceilings and big rooms,” Kuehn said. “And I like the fact that it was a firehouse.”

The Melba Street firehouse would need a lot of work, he said, to turn it into a home or business, and that's why he thinks the starting bid should have been lower.

Still, he liked the space and the structure.

“I'd hate to see someone buy it and knock it down,” he said.

Mayor Blake said the city assessor set the starting bid based on the market value of the building and property.

“But the market dictates the sale,” Blake said in May, “and this was a little steeper than the market would bear.”

Details about the sealed bids, including submission date, have not yet been released. The Milford Mirror will report details as soon as they are available.