Coe to purchase northeast Cedar Rapids fire station for student housing

Station, in use since 1925, won't be needed when new central fire station opens this summer

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Coe College students will be taking up quarters where city firefighters have since 1925.

On Tuesday, the City Council moved to finalize an agreement with Coe College to allow the college to buy the city’s district fire station at 1424 B Ave. NE and convert it into housing for 30 upperclassmen and women.

The council had sought proposals for the fire station next to the Coe campus, but received just Coe’s, Jennifer Pratt, a planner in the city’s Community Development Department, told the City Council.

Pratt said Coe has offered to buy the building for $290,000, or $10,000 more than its appraised value, and to spend between $200,000 and $300,000 to renovate it for housing.

The fire station is up for sale because the Fire Department won’t need it when it occupies a new central fire station at 713 First Ave. SE and a new west-side district fire station in the 3300 block of Crestwood Dr. NW this summer.

Rod Pritchard, Coe’s director of marketing and public relations, on Tuesday said the college will take possession of the firehouse as soon as possible, but he added that the college understands that it needs to wait until the Fire Department is able to move out and move into its two new facilities.

"Ideally," Coe will be able to take possession of the fire station by midsummer in time to do some refurbishing of the building’s second-floor firefighter quarters for student use in the fall of 2013, Pritchard said.

He said a more extensive interior renovation of the truck bays on the building’s first floor should provide housing for 30 students by the fall of 2014.

Coe expects the housing to "a really popular option for students," Pritchard added.

The city’s Pratt said a City Hall evaluation team, which included neighborhood representatives and Beth DeBoom, president of Save CR Heritage, supported the Coe proposal and recommended that the college maintain the historical character of the fire house and mature trees around it.

Pritchard said the renovation won’t change the architectural look of the fire house’s exterior.

DeBoom on Tuesday said Coe had done a good job with previous renovations and she said she trusts it will do a good job on the fire house.

"The important thing is they are not tearing it down and they are reusing it, putting it to good use," DeBoom said. "And hopefully it will be around for a long time to come. I think it’s great."

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