Ketchikan’s Main Street fire station was built in 1943. It’s vacant and used for storage, (KRBD file photo by Leila Kheiry)

The Ketchikan City Council wants to move forward with selling the old fire station on Main Street, but didn’t make a firm decision Monday about how.

The council instead asked staff to bring back an ordinance to declare the historic property surplus. The old fire hall was built in 1943. It’s been vacant for about seven years.

A local business expressed interest last fall in developing a distillery in that building, which prompted the city to commission an appraisal.

The appraisal shows the old fire station is worth about $330,000. The city could ask for bids after declaring the building surplus. Another suggestion from Council Member Julie Isom is to arrange an outcry auction.

She made a motion to start the auction with a minimum bid of half the appraised value. That didn’t get a second, though, so she changed her motion to start bidding at the appraised value. That one was seconded.

Isom, participating telephonically, said she believes there will be interest in the building.

“This is a great time to do it,” she said. “Advertise it in California, Washington, Oregon.”

Other council members were interested in the idea of an auction, but wanted to take the fastest route to selling the building. City Attorney Mitch Seaver said the city hasn’t conducted an outcry auction before, so it will take some time to establish the process. Listing with a Realtor also will take extra time.

Simply putting the building out for bid is what the city generally does with surplus property.

City Manager Karl Amylon asked whether the council wanted to include covenants, such as maintaining the historic façade of the building. Several council members said no. Council Member Janalee Gage, though, said she would like to preserve the façade.

“I do want to see that we have some covenants for the sake of the historical piece of that building,” she said.  

Such a covenant would not prohibit changes to the interior of the building. It would apply only to the street-facing exterior.

Isom withdrew her motion for an auction. An ordinance to declare the building surplus will come back to the council for its May 2nd meeting. The method of selling will be discussed again at that time.

Ordinances require two readings to pass, so a final vote will be May 16th, at the earliest.

Also Monday, the council approved a $100,000 budget transfer to repair a Ketchikan Public Library column that is settling and causing damage to the building.