City aims to buy site of store fire

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CHARLESTON --- The owner of a furniture store where nine firefighters died battling a blaze nearly a year ago has agreed to sell the land to the city of Charleston for $1.85 million.

The City Council is scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to approve a bond issue to buy the land where the Sofa Super Store once stood.

The (Charleston) Post and Courier has obtained a letter Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. wrote to council members telling them he hopes the cost can be split among the city, county, state and federal governments.

"I am certain that they will all want to be a part of this very important public protection of this hallowed ground," Mr. Riley wrote.

The rubble has been cleared from the site where the firefighters died last June. It was the worst loss of firefighters since the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

"It's sacred land now," Mr. Riley said. "Working with the families and the community, we will come up with the best way to design an appropriate memorial."

The city announced plans to buy the land a month after the fire, but only reached an agreement with owner Herb Goldstein this week. The $1.85 million price was Charleston's offer, based on an appraisal commissioned by the city last year.

"We just want the property to be used either as a memorial to the firefighters, or a fire station -- some use that would be for the public good," Mr. Goldstein said.

Mr. Riley said he will put together a committee to discuss what to do with the land and take ideas from the public.


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