Laura and Bob Goewey | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Laura and Bob Goewey

Couple plans to renovate Park Point fire hall

A Park Point couple with a love for historic buildings were the high bidders at Friday’s auction of the old Park Point fire hall.

By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune

A Park Point couple with a love for historic buildings were the high bidders at Friday’s auction of the old Park Point fire hall.

Bob and Laura Goewey, who have lived on Park Point for eight years, won with their bid of $235,000. They plan to restore the 82-year-old fire hall and live in it.

If the sale goes through, they plan to sell their current home in the 3600 block of Minnesota Avenue.

“I can’t afford to have two houses,” Bob Goewey explained.

With the auction starting Friday with a minimum bid of $175,000, roughly the property’s assessed value, Bob remained in the bidding the longest, outlasting two other serious bidders. Three others had signed up for the auction, but dropped out early.

“It was so exciting,” said Laura Goewey, who owns Blue Lake Gallery and Fig Leaf’s Clothing in Canal Park. “Our intent for the fire house is to restore it, not to tear it down. I heard about other people bidding to tear it down or to hold on to it for the land value.”

Besides the fire hall built in 1930, the 50-by-100-foot lot at 2138 Minnesota Ave. has direct access to Lake Superior. The fire hall hasn’t been used since July. But it’s gone without needed repairs and upkeep for years.

The couple plan to rehabilitate the 3,120-square-foot building, adding insulation and installing a new roof, siding and windows.

“It’ll look like it did originally from the outside,” Bob Goewey said.

Built in 1930, the fire hall was designed to complement the homes around it. It was identified as a historically significant structure in a 1984 inventory of buildings in Duluth.

Inside, the couple plan to keep the original configuration but update the bathroom and kitchen and other spaces for modern family living.

Bob Goewey, who co-owns Cloquet Home Center, said he’s been looking for such a project for 20 years. And he says he is up to doing most of the work himself.

“I have a great source of materials and the ability to rehabilitate it,” he said. “I have built new homes and remodeled old homes. This is my first opportunity to rehab an old fire hall into a single-family dwelling.”

He figures it will cost him $100,000 to do it.

The couple’s purchase of the fire hall has added meaning because Laura’s grandfather was a Duluth firefighter a century ago.

“It makes it a little more serendipitous,” she said. “It seems like it’s coming full circle. It makes it extra special.”

The sale, however, can’t go through unless the City Council approves it. But the couple is confident they’ll get that approval.

Some councilors had opposed the city’s decision to sell the property, fearing buyers would raze a historic city structure. That followed controversy earlier this year surrounding the city’s decision to close Park Point’s longtime Fire Hall No. 5, based on recommendations of a consultant’s comprehensive review of the city’s fire department.

City Administrative Officer Dave Montgomery also is optimistic.

“When the councilors look at the sale and the couple who are buying it and their plans and then look at the alternatives, I think they will see this in a very positive light,” he said.

While there were no use restrictions surrounding the sale of the property, the city would prefer a buyer who would fix up the building rather than demolish it, which would be great for the neighborhood and would retain the character of Park Point, he said.

The auction results and the couple’s plans to restore the building have many relieved.

“This will make all of our preservationists happy,” said Penny Clark of the Duluth Preservation Alliance.

The sale is expected to go before the City Council in January or February.

Read the article: Couple plans to renovate Park Point fire hall

Laura and Bob Goewey | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s