SACO – The city’s historic fire station on Thornton Avenue won’t be demolished, at least not for a few more months.

City councilors voted Monday night to postpone taking action on the fire station until they’ve had time to evaluate an offer that was received just a few hours before their meeting began.

Mayor-elect Mark Johnston, who won’t be sworn into office until Dec. 5, said he was contacted Monday afternoon by a Portland-based developer, who expressed interest in converting the 1938 building into elderly housing.

Johnston said that Cynthia Taylor, president of Housing Initiatives of New England Corporation, told him she would be willing to offer the city $475,000 for the property – just $4,000 less than the city’s asking price.

Councilors said that after Taylor has had the chance to tour the fire station and develop a written offer, they’d be willing to sit down and consider all their alternatives, preferably by the end of the year.

“She told me it’s an ideal property for elderly housing,” Johnston told the City Council.

According to Housing Initiatives’ website, it has restored an old elementary school in Scarborough into senior apartments – it is called Bessey Commons – and converted the former city hall in Augusta into an assisted living facility.

Monday’s meeting was the culmination of a process that began several months ago, Mayor Roland L. Michaud said.

In April, the city listed the fire station for sale.

Since then, a variety of offers have surfaced including one from a local mason, Nate Libby, who offered to pay the city $40,000 for the fire station. Libby wanted to convert the station into his home office.

Michaud said a shoemaker wants to lease the building, while another person wants to produce films there.

During that time, the city sought demolition bids. Four companies submitted proposals ranging in price from $89,000 to $214,000.

Meanwhile, a citizen group calling itself Saco Spirit was formed to oppose demolition.

Many of its members attended Monday’s meeting.

“I’m very pleased with the result because it gives us more time,” said Colleen Sargent.

Sargent said that a few weeks ago the council seemed intent on demolishing the fire station.

Now she is hopeful the fire station can be sold. Not only would that option preserve the station, but it would keep the building on the property tax rolls.

Councilor Leslie Smith Jr. proposed that the council delay action until no later than the first week of January, a proposal that was embraced by a majority of the council.

“Whoever shows up with a dollar sign and a reasonable proposal should be looked at,” Smith said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]