Mayor sees a lot of potential in old firehouse, now on the auction block

Mayor Ben Blake thinks the old Melba Street firehouse would make a nice mixed-use building, maybe a flower shop or a breakfast shop below and residence above.

Or the building, which will be auctioned May 10, could be used for offices. Then again, it could be a single-family home for someone with an eye toward the eclectic. Blake said there is nothing precluding a buyer from using the old firehouse, which is in a business district zone, as a single-family home.

“There are a lot of people who love fire departments and firehouses,” Blake said. “When I was a little boy, I dreamed of being a fireman.”

The two-story building comes with a spacious living area, at 5,498 square feet, according to the city assessor’s office, which includes a very large garage — roomy enough for firetrucks, in fact — and two very large automatic garage doors.

“This would be great for someone who had a couple of cars they wanted to restore,” the mayor said.

The stucco/masonry exterior gives the building a bit of a beachy feel, and according to city officials, there is a view of the beach from the flat roof. The roof appears, however, to be accessible only by a metal rung ladder mounted to the second-floor wall.

The spacious main room on the second floor offers a glimpse of the water through the tree line — only a glimpse, but ocean view nonetheless. And the room itself is open and airy, leading to what could be one small kitchen — functional, but in need of updating — three bedrooms and a spacious though commercial-type bathroom, complete with lots of pink wall tile.

One of the would-be second-floor bedrooms is fitted with a huge mirror, which the mayor said is there because the room was used as a weight room when it was a firehouse.

One media representative who toured the property Monday said the long mirror would be a great asset if the firehouse became a dance studio.

The mayor echoed that, and noted that the Lee Lund Dance Studio in downtown Milford was once a city firehouse.

The building features gas heat, a lower floor bathroom — also in need, of course, of a little upgrading — and fairly high ceilings.

Firefighter Greg Carman spent a lot of time at the old firehouse and has fond memories of it. Still, he wouldn’t consider it for a single-family home because it’s not quite old enough for him.

“I like my homes built before 1900,” Carman said. “The best probable use because of the zoning and location, I would say, should be a small deli/grocery store with a single apartment above. The neighborhood needs this since Beachside closed and due to the many seniors in the area.”

The best part of Station 6 and Station 5, which also closed and will soon house the new Woodmont Borough Hall, were that they were like a neighbor to the community that surrounds them, Carman said.

“We welcomed in the joggers or cyclists for a drink of water, or the local kids to fill their flat tires on their bikes, and gave them a quick tour of the fire trucks, Carman said.

The city of Milford will sell the old Melba Street firehouse at an auction Saturday, May 10, and residents are invited to submit their bid. The minimum bid is $477,000.

The Melba Street firehouse is one of two city firehouses that was closed when the new East Side fire station was built on New Haven Avenue, consolidating the Melba Street and the Kings Highway fire stations.

The property consists of a piece of land totaling approximately 20,000 square feet, located at 204 Melba Street. The city bought the property in 1944, and the firehouse was built in 1948. It was used as a firehouse until about a year ago.

It’s livable. According to the mayor, several disaster relief coordinators lived for a short time in the building after Hurricane Sandy.

The potential buyer looking for a true firehouse experience here won’t find the two fire poles that once allowed firefighters to get quickly from the main level to the street level. Fire poles were removed from most firehouses about 15 years ago, Blake said, but he noted the infrastructure is still there if someone wanted to try to put them back in.

On the other hand, the city does plan to bless the buyer with some firefighting tokens.

Fire Chief Douglas Edo said he believes the department can come up with some smoke detectors to donate, and likely some plastic fire hats that the department gives out to children at special events.

People may tour the property on the following dates: Thursday, April 24, 10 to 11; Thursday, May 1, 10 to 11, and Saturday, May 10, 10 to noon.

For more details on the city auction of the firehouse, see related article about firehouse sale.