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City douses flames on firehouse sales

The Brooklyn Paper
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Don’t sound the siren yet — city officials have put a hold on much-reviled plans to auction off vacant firehouses.

Mayor Bloomberg announced on Wednesday that he would create a task force of elected officials and Community Board leaders to examine how the city should dispose of shuttered firehouses.

The immediate result of the mayoral move halts the sale of Engine 204 on Degraw Street in Carroll Gardens, a narrow brick building that was decommissioned in 2004 and was in the midst of being sold off by the city, despite local objection.

But the creation of the task force doesn’t mean such sales won’t proceed, said Bloomberg spokesman John Gallagher.

“[But] it will result in uses for these properties that best meet the needs of the communities where they’re located,” Gallagher added.

Bloomberg closed the engine company as part of a larger cost-cutting measure. Activists were still trying to get the facility reopened in January when the city announced that it was working to do just the opposite by beginning the process of selling the building.

The task force announcement comes after weeks of public meetings that ended with residents, local elected officials and Borough President Markowitz exhibiting a rare degree of harmony in their opposition to the mayor’s plan to sell.

“New developments occurring along Schermerhorn and Livingston streets, Fourth Avenue, the Gowanus Canal area and Atlantic Yards is [sic] going to bring thousands of new residents and businesses to the area,” said Markowitz, whose approval for Atlantic Yards is exceeded perhaps only by his love of the borough.

Still, it’s unlikely that 299 Degraw St. will ever again house the city’s Bravest. A spokesman for the city’s department of Citywide Administrative Services said Wednesday that officials from the department of Housing, Preservation and Development are already eying the property.

“HPD has expressed interest,” said spokesman Mark Daly.

The idea of converting the old firehouse into housing isn’t coming out of nowhere. At a Community Board 6 hearing last month, a number of neighborhood residents suggested that the city housing agency convert the building into affordable apartments or condos.

Updated 4:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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