Christine Lee, Irving Reporter
A group in Irving has plans to convert the city's first fire station into a restaurant, fire museum and other development.
An unlikely team of an auto dealership owner, a business developer and a group of firefighters is working on the revival of Downtown Irving's first fire station.
The Irving Fire Foundation has been working with various partners, including local businessman Don Herring Jr. and business developer Monte Anderson, on proposal to turn Fire Station No. 1 into a restaurant, fire museum and office building.
"The first floor would be a restaurant. The lobby of the restaurant would be a fire museum," said Herring.
The proposal is still in preliminary stages. Herring said that if the city leases the land to them, they would be able to renovate the space for about $750,000.
The firehouse also known as "Old Central" was built in 1932.
Fran Bonilla, a former councilwoman, moved to Irving in 1959 and remembered visiting the firefighters decades ago.
"It was nice, and the guys kept it all clean and polished," she said.
The building also served as the original city hall and a jail.
"It served its purpose very well in our city for a long, long time," Bonilla said.
But the day came when new fire equipment became too large to fit inside the historic building. Eventually, the city moved on, abandoning the building in 1985.
Irving Chamber of Commerce spokesman Don Williams said there have been several proposals to bring this building back to life -- including one that proposed making a residence out of it.
Heritage District resident Lorraine Taylor said she has been talking with the city about the plans for the past year and a half.
"It's part of our history, and this neighborhood won't be the same without a building that celebrates our first fire station, city hall, jail, etc.," she said.
As the chamber and the city continue to look into possibilities, the friends of Old Central said they hope the building would be re-established soon.
"I think it would be a great opportunity for them to drive by and say, 'Hey that was once our station. Now it's a vibrant thriving member of the community in downtown Irving,'" firefighter Daniel Rozier said.
The Irving Fire Foundation has been meeting with Mayor Beth Van Duyne and some of City Council members.
Mayor Pro Tem Rick Stopfer said there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the project. He said public hearings would need to take place and the city would have to figure out how the property was purchased. It could be an ongoing process that could take several weeks, if not months, for everyone to get on board, he said.