Kentlands firehouse could come up for sale
Gaithersburg officials to consider labeling structure as surplus property
What's the best thing to do with an early 20th century firehouse that is badly in need of repairs?
The Gaithersburg City Council is trying to figure that out.
The mayor and council will consider a proposal at a June 6 meeting to declare the Kentlands Firehouse at 321 Firehouse Lane as surplus property. The declaration would allow the city to consider selling or leasing the property to a private company or individual.
The city has owned the building since the mid-1990s, and the 2008 strategic plan called for a plan to transfer the building's use to a private partnership.
A potential deal between a law firm and the city, whereby the firm would repair and remodel the building in exchange for free or reduced rent, fell apart in 2009.
Deputy City Manager Tony Tomasello said there was no active interest in the property before the meeting was announced May 9. The city has received several calls in the intervening weeks from residents, media and other people who are mostly just curious about the process, Tomasello said.
The firehouse is one of 33 city-owned properties and one of three the city is actively trying to develop, according to a report of city properties presented to the council in October 2010.
The two-story building with a basement was built in the early 20th century to house trucks and other farm equipment when the property was a working farm. Otis Beall Kent bought the property around 1940 and kept his private collection of antique fire engines in the building.
The city received the property from Great Seneca Development Corporation in 1996 along with the farm's mansion, barn and other structures on a 3-acre plot. An itemized property valuation is not available from the state or county for the firehouse alone. Tomasello would not venture a guess at the value he said it could be worth nothing, or up to seven figures because the value changes based on what a developer would want to do with the building.
Until several years ago, the city leased upstairs offices to architects and a construction company, Tomasello said. The Kentlands Arts Barn uses open bays in the garage to build stage sets.
The upstairs offices have not been renovated since the 1970s; the historic building has old windows, a torn-out kitchen and old carpet covering wood floors.
To comment on the surplus property proposal, contact Tomasello at ttomasello@
gaithersburgmd.gov or 301-258-6310.