A pair of local entrepreneurs would like to open a distillery in Ketchikan’s historic firehouse — if they can get their hands on it.
The Ketchikan City Council on Thursday decided to put the World War II-era property out to bid a second time, even though Mark Siversten and business partner Travis Robbins submitted a cash offer of $150,000 after the 76-year old building failed to attract any bids during a previous auction in October.
Siversten is the son of Ketchikan city mayor Bob Siversten, who recused himself from the matter.
The live auction in October started at the appraised value, $335,750.
Mark Sivertsen appeared before the council to discuss his concerns with the process. He and Robbins have said they’d like to open a distillery in the 76-year-old structure. Their cash offer to city management and was meant to be confidential.
“We didn’t even tell our wives,” Sivertsen said. “We kept that as quiet as possible.”
He says he wanted to keep the offer for the firehouse quiet because he knew the council was considering holding a second auction — this time with sealed bids and no minimum. But Sivertsen’s $150,000 offer was leaked to the press, and Sivertsen says that has put him at an unfair disadvantage in the bidding process. He asked the council to abandon its plan to auction off the firehouse and simply accept his original offer.
Instead, the council unanimously decided to hold another live auction, this time with a minimum bid of $140,000 — $10,000 below Siversten’s. The firehouse will likely hit the auction block early next year.
Water filtration technical support
In other business, the council unanimously decided to move forward with a $100,000 contract with Jacobs Engineering. The Texas-based multinational firm will provide technical support while the city starts takes its first steps towards installing a drinking water filtration plant.
The city got word in early November that its drinking water reservoirs exceeded federal standards for fecal coliform bacteria. Although local officials have assured residents that the city’s water remains safe to drink after it’s chemically purified, a 2014 agreement with the state requires that the city install a filtration system to address the problem.