Fearing it could be demolished or turned to an unacceptable use, the City Council has reluctantly submitted a bid to buy the old Rock Hotel in downtown Farmington.

Bids on the old building, now vacant, are being accepted through Thursday by its owner, Zions Bank.The hotel has been for sale for several years but no one has put up the $125,000 asking price. An architect who examined it and compiled a historical survey of the structure estimated it will take another $125,000 or more to bring it up to current building and safety codes.

A non-profit group wanted to turn the old hotel into a shelter for runaway teens, winning approval for a conditional use permit last spring from the city Planning Commission.

Nearby residents appealed and the council in June overturned the issuance of the permit.

The decision to bid on the hotel split the council, with council member Hank Semadeni voting against it. Semadeni said the city may be buying a white elephant, not knowing how much money is needed to rehabilitate the building.

He also fretted about having to submit a bid by the Thursday deadline, saying he doesn't like to make such a major commitment for the city on such short notice.

He was outvoted by council members Pat Achter, Greg Bell, and Marda Dillree, who said the hotel's location in downtown Farmington and historical significance make action imperative.

Achter, a member of the city's preservation and centennial committees, advocates buying the hotel and turning it into a museum.

Application has been made to place the 140-year old building on a federal register of historic buildings for protection. But until that is approved, the building could be purchased and demolished for its prime downtown commercial location.

Achter said residents have approached her about raising funds and using volunteer labor to turn the building into a community center.