The Merrill Common Council last month agreed to put the former Fire Station 1 up for bids after receiving an inquiry from someone interested in opening a restaurant in the building.
While the city did receive a bid of $10,000 from a would-be restaurant operator, the Merrill Housing Authority (MHA) has submitted a bid of $350,000. City Administrator Dave Johnson is recommending that the council accept the Housing Authority’s bid when they consider the offers at next Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
Among other properties in the city, MHA operates the Jenny Towers apartment building which is on the same block as the former fire station. According to MHA’s bid, the fire station property would be used to create a centralized office and maintenance facility. “This acquisition and property continuity would allow for much needed storage, better, centralized maintenance facilities, and central office expansion while eliminating potential parking issues between MHA tenants and any private business operation.”
MHA further would maintain the historical façade of the original fire house.
MHA is suggesting a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) arrangement that could provide additional tax revenue to the city. In its bid, MHA notes that they are a known entity to the city and have been serving the Merrill community since 1966.
In his recommendation to accept MHA’s bid, Johnson proposes that the city set aside up to $150,000 of the proceeds to construct a new maintenance building at the MARC. The former fire station property had previously been considered for use as a maintenance facility for the Parks and Recreation Department