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Fire Sale: Vacant Firehouses on the Market Around City

By Benjamin Woodard | April 12, 2013 7:29am | Updated on April 12, 2013 9:34am
 Eleven unused firehouses, some city landmarks, are set to be sold, officials said.
Chicago Firehouses
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ROGERS PARK — Across the city, 11 vacant firehouses are set to be sold off by the city, officials said.

Two of the old stations are on the Far North Side, one at 5714 N. Ridge Ave. in Edgewater and another at 1723 W. Greenleaf Ave. in Rogers Park.

"The city has a variety of police and fire stations that are no longer serving public safety purposes and are available for redevelopment," said Peter Strazzabosco, a deputy commissioner with the Department of Housing and Economic Development.

Strazzabosco said the zoning of each property varies, but any viable development proposal could be accepted by the city, including a restaurant or an office for a nonprofit organization.

"I will say, though, there’s lots of interest in the city’s vacant police and fire stations," he said. "They have a lot of potential."

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said in an email to constituents that he had been working with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to find a use for the Greenleaf Avenue firehouse "that would be most beneficial to the surrounding neighborhood."

Strazzabosco said there was “considerable interest” in the firehouse, which has been vacant since 2009 when the firefighters there moved to a new station on Clark Street.

The city appraised the structure and land at $250,000. Moore said the land is zoned for residential use, but he would consider supporting a zoning change for a project supported by the community.

At one time, the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society expressed interest in moving into the firehouse, but decided it would not be able to afford to rehabilitate the building.

The deadline for bids is 4 p.m. May 8.

The firehouse on Ridge Avenue, a Chicago Landmark, was built in 1928 and trimmed in terra cotta. The land and structure, including a parking lot, had been appraised at $350,000 and is zoned for a small-scale retail development.

Strazzabosco said the city would begin accepting bids for that property next week.

Any sale of city property, however, must be approved by the City Council.

In Bronzeville, the City Council is close to approving a $1, 10-year lease for a vacant firehouse to be used as a museum dedicated to African-American firefighters.

Other firehouses have been sold, such as one near the Damen Brown Line "L" stop, which is now being converted into a single-family home, Strazzabosco said.

Several south side firehouses, along with other historic buildings, are listed on the city's website.

Moore said his zoning and land use advisory committee would review proposals for the Greenleaf Avenue firehouse.

"I look forward to sharing with you the proposals for the use of the site," he told constituents.