Neighborhood groups hope to save historic St. Paul firehouse from demolition

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There are plans in the works to demolish a historic St. Paul fire station in order to build a hotel – but not if neighborhood groups get their way.

The former fire station – the Hope Engine Company No. 3 firehouse located on Leech Street and Grand Avenue – was built in 1872 and is the "oldest existing municipal building of any kind" in St. Paul, the Little Bohemia Neighborhood Association (LBNA) said in a news release last week.

But a local developer wants to tear it down. The Pioneer Press reports the developer has applied for a demolition permit with the hope of building a 109-room Marriott hotel. The paper notes no formal plans have been submitted to the city for the site.

The LBNA, and other neighborhood groups, have stated their "strong opposition" to the demolition of the building, noting it is eligible for historic designation both locally and nationally, the release says.

“It's a lot of historical significance and we think it's a community asset,” Tom Brock of the LBNA told FOX 9. “Buildings like this add to the fabric of the community both in terms of the cultural significance and the history that it brings. We value places like this.”

And now several community groups have filed a lawsuit requesting a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction to halt the demolition process, according to a post in the LBNA Facebook group.

The LBNA says the firehouse holds a "large amount of development potential" for the neighborhood, and the group is working to find a developer who will help realize the potential of the property, the release notes.

Community members who don't want to see the building be torn down plan to hold a rally at the fire station at 3 p.m. Sunday, according to a post on Facebook. A petition was also created in an effort to save the firehouse.

The city is expected to issue the demolition permit Monday, the Pioneer Press says. The developer has not responded to media requests about the lawsuit, reports note.

Turning the fire station, which is located near United and Children's hospitals, into a hotel would help fill St. Paul's need for more hotels, the paper says, noting it's one of two other hotel projects in the works for the city.

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