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Eagan's hot to sell old fire station

  • Article by: HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA
  • Star Tribune
  • March 8, 2011 - 3:33 PM

Some get turned into condos. Others into coffee shops, bars, restaurants, dance studios and even private homes.

Regardless of the use, it is clear that there can be new life for old fire stations once the trucks and firefighters move away.

The city of Eagan hopes that trend continues as it prepares to market Fire Station No. 2 as surplus property.

"It is a bit unusual," admits Jon Hohenstein, Eagan's Community Development director.

At the same time, Hohenstein said, selling something like a fire station will ultimately come down to market forces -- and how low the city is willing to go on its asking price.

At the moment, the city is going to directly market the 5,484-square-foot building at an asking price of $550,000.

Should that not move the nearly 40-year-old structure, the city either will drop the price or try to sell it through a broker, Hohenstein said.

The building, sitting on just over half an acre, is located in an industrial area at 2980 Lone Oak Road in the northern part of the city. Its key features are two large drive-through bays and 14-foot-high doors.

As a fire station, "It's outlived its usefulness," Eagan City Administrator Thomas Hedges said.

But for the creative at heart, the possibilities are many.

A hot history of sales

Although history would suggest that the property will get sold, the housing and real estate crisis that has hit the country the past three years could make the task difficult this year, especially with indications that real estate prices continue to decline nationally.

"We've had to sell public buildings before," said former Waconia Mayor Roger Lehrke. "I would think, especially like things are everywhere, it would be tough as nails."

In preparation for the pending sale, Eagan officials contacted a number of nearby cities to see what worked -- and what did not -- when they sold their fire stations. Waconia was among those contacted, along with Bloomington, Savage, Lakeville, Blaine and Brooklyn Center, Hohenstein said.

Minneapolis and St. Paul probably have had the most experience -- and success -- in selling fire stations. St. Paul sold Station 14 on Snelling Avenue, for example, and it was turned into a dance studio years ago. It is now a professional building that still retains the Station 14 name.

Minneapolis has seen its former fire stations turned into condominiums, bagel shops, bars and professional offices.

Most of the time the buildings are sold as is, but sometimes cities have had to remove fire poles and alter other features to make the buildings more immediately attractive to buyers.

"This is an as-is sale," Hohenstein said of the Fire Station No. 2. "The property is as presented."

He said that because Eagan has a volunteer fire department, no firefighters slept at the station, and thus there are no fire poles inside. Essentially, Station 2 is a box with plenty of space, a few offices and some lockers, Hohenstein said.

Hedges said the city is optimistic the property will sell, and might even draw interest from some of the surrounding companies looking to expand.

The fire station has been rezoned for industrial commercial use, which should make the sale easier.

"I don't think it will be hard" to unload it, Hedges said. "We'll be talking to all the neighbors. I think there will be some interest. It's in a good location."

Heron Marquez • 952-707-9994

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