RED BANK: FIREHOUSE SOLD, USE UNKNOWN

morgans 042914With his brother, Michael, looking on, John Morgan gives borough Administrator Stanley Sickels a deposit for the firehouse purchase. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

liberty hose 070612Red Bank’s former Liberty Hose Company firehouse may soon have the second owner in its 103-year history.

Brothers Michael and John Morgan, owners of several prominent downtown properties, acquired the two-story, red brick structure at an auction that drew no other bidders or onlookers other than redbankgreen Tuesday morning.

The building, which failed to attract any bids when it went on the block for $475,000 a month ago, sold to the Morgans at the new minimum bid of $400,000.

The plan? “We’d like to clean it up, keeping as much of the look as possible, and then put it up for rent,” Michael Morgan said. Though no tenants are lined up, he said redbankgreen readers made some good suggestions on earlier articles about the auction.

“Something like the Salty Dog” firehouse-themed restaurant chain “is the right fit,” he said.

The Morgans gave a deposit of nearly $60,000 toward the purchase, in excess of the minimum 10 percent required under the bidding rules. The bid now has to be accepted by the borough council, which is next scheduled to meet on May 7, and then to contract, said borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

The property is assessed at $782,400, though no taxes are currently collected because it’s owned by the town. It will go onto the tax rolls once the transaction is completed.

Through Morco LLC, the Morgans own 58-64 Broad Street, home to street-level businesses that include a photo studio, a yet-to-open Subway sandwich shop and a lacrosse equipment store, with multiple businesses in the second-floor offices.

They also own 36 Broad, former longtime home of Ballew Jewelers and now home to Tesserae, a tile-art gallery.

The Liberty Hose company moved in November to the home of the Red Bank First Aid Squad, on Spring Street after the borough shuttered its 103-year-old building, located between the Bow Tie Cinemas movie theater and the south gate of a vacant lot that site approved in 2008 for 27 condos that haven’t been built.