Old Firehouse Up For Grabs. Got Any Ideas?
The city wants to sell or lease the old, fire-damaged firehouse in Edgemere and needs Community Board 14’s input, but board members said Tuesday night that they want to hear from the public before they weigh in on the subject.
The former home of Engine 265/ Ladder 121 on Beach 56 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard was shut down in 2004 when firefighters relocated to a new combined FDNY/EMS stationhouse nearby. The interior was damaged the following summer by a fire that was started by squatters, and it’s also said to contain asbestos.
The disposition of the property is being handled by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which sent a representative from its Real Estate Services division, Matthew Burke, to CB14’s monthly meeting Tuesday night. “In this case disposition would mean sale or long-term lease pursuant to zoning,” Burke explained.
The two-story firehouse, which was built in the late 1920s, sits on a 60-foot by 110-foot lot. It is zoned R6, which would allow a small apartment building or a lower building with high lot coverage to be constructed. The property has a C2-4 overlay, which allows commercial uses designed to serve the surrounding community.
The city is disposing of the firehouse under the Uniform Land Use Review Process, which means it has to go before CB14, the borough president’s office, the Department of City Planning and the City Council. CB14 has until January 22 to make its recommendations, which are strictly advisory and therefore non-binding.
CB14 decided this week that it would postpone its vote so the public could weigh in at a meeting of its Land Use Committee. District Manager Jonathan Gaska said board members would not tour the building to assess the damage from the fire or other conditions. “We’ve been told it’s unsafe,” said Gaska. “We’re not going to ask board members to go into an unsafe building. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Burke said that under the law, DCAS would sell the property by public auction as-is, meaning whoever buys it would automatically assume responsibility for its structural stability and any asbestos removal.
City Councilman James Sanders Jr., who previously supported The Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps bid to take over the firehouse, attended CB14’s meeting to discuss his vision for a vocational school with a focus on preparing residents for jobs in the construction and healthcare industries.
“It’s a total gut, or take it down and build a new building,” said Sanders who has toured the building since the fire. “Whatever the architect decides.” Sanders said he has $1 million to fund the school he envisions.
Gaska said postponing the vote would also give Sanders time to flesh out his school plan, which he said the board was likely to get behind if the councilman can make a more detailed presentation next time.
A date for CB14’s Land Use Committee meeting had not been set at press time, but dates in the first week of January were being discussed. Check out The Wave’s calendar section, “It’s What’s Happening,” in future issues for the meeting announcement.