After over a year and a half of seeking someone to develop the site of the former Fire Station 9 in the Los Cerritos Neighborhood, the city is nearing the sale of the historic building that could see it converted into a bakery.

The city had listed the station as surplus land in October 2022 but received no bids and turned to a broker to sell the building in May. Gemmae Bake Shop emerged as a potential buyer in November.

The owners of the popular Westside Filipino bakery could purchase the building from the city for $750,000 next week, according to a city report. The City Council is expected to vote on the deal at its March 19 meeting.

Support facts not fear

News happens fast. In the midst of crime, disasters and other breaking news, the Long Beach Post has reporters and photographers who run to the scene to bring you reliable information. If you value this vital community resource, support it with a tax-deductible donation.

The agreement will open up a 60-day escrow period where the Tolentino family, which owns Gemmae Bake Shop, will be able to inspect and ensure the site is suitable for a baking operation and determine how it will navigate the historic elements within the building.

Tolentino family members have said previously that they plan to convert the building into a production bakery to both increase the bakery’s capacity and to provide a new dining space to the building’s old reception room.

Community groups had pushed to preserve the entire building as historic, which could have limited potential buyers, but city officials pushed for a hybrid approach to saving the building.

In January, the City Council voted to declare the exterior of the building as historic but not the interior features like the fire station’s fireplace, cabinets, and the truss ceiling inside the station’s garage, where the baking area could be located.

Instead, the city will request that those features be preserved if it’s feasible for the new buyer, a decision that the council made to provide more flexibility and help make the building easier to sell.

The station was permanently closed in 2019 after the city said that recurring leaks had led to mold issues forcing it to vacate the building and move its personnel elsewhere.

The council is scheduled to approve a contract for the construction of the replacement Fire Station 9 at its March 12 meeting. The new station will be just a few blocks north of the old site, and once it’s finished, it will bring to a close years of fire personnel meant to cover the Los Cerritos area being located outside of their service area.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.