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Historic fire station saved from demolition

Charlotte's oldest fire station has been saved from demolition. For more than a week a big yellow truck with a hefty shovel has been perched outside fire station No. 2 in Charlotte's south end. The red brick building is more than 100 years old and dates back to when horses hauled water and firefighting equipment, but it's been vacant for at least three years. The building's owner, Marcel Stark had said it would take a miracle of a deal to call off the demolition. He said an agreement was reached late Tuesday night. "Between the entire community of Charlotte and all the emotions that have transpired I believe it's the best for the community and hopefully this new package that I've been presented I hope the business and the building will transpire," Stark says. Stark would not discuss details of the deal. He only said it came about because of the efforts of Community South Bank and the consulting firm he employs. Stark says the building will be redesigned and updated over the next four months for a new business. But he wouldn't say what that business is. Stark had promised the property to a developer in Florida whom he said agreed to pay $1.4 million for the land, provided it came without the firehouse. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission offered him $950,000, but Stark says that wouldn't allow him to recover his original investment. In the end, he says he opted to take less than what the Florida developer offered him in order to preserve the firehouse and rid himself of stress. "I learned a lesson. Don't look at me buying anymore historical property. I can promise you," Stark says. Jennifer Oats, who moved from Los Angeles to Charlotte eight years ago, applied some of the pressure to save the firehouse. She set up a Facebook page that attracteded some 6,000 fire station supporters and collected hundreds of signatures to preserve the building. She watched as Stark made the announcement. "The more I learned about it, I just felt I'd keep pushing and pushing and make enough noise until the city paid attention," Oats says. As for what new business will occupy the firehouse, Stark says that announcement should come next month.