SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Wednesday marked the official start of construction on a $14.6 million bayside fire station - one of the major San Diego projects held up when the state abolished the redevelopment process.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the 10,000-square-foot lot downtown at Pacific Highway and Cedar Street, across from the County Administration Center.
The site is west of the railroad lines, so when the three-story station opens late next year, firefighters responding to an incident on or near the waterfront won't face delays by passing trains or trolleys -- which sometimes happens now.
"Our downtown fire stations now are on the east side of the railroad and trolley tracks, and as more people move in to downtown, as more businesses locate here and more visitors come to the harbor, it's critically important that we have the ability to respond quickly -- an ability we will have with an engine company that doesn't have to wait at the rail crossing,'' San Diego Fire- Rescue Department Chief Brian Fennessy said.
Planning for the station began in 2005 but was halted in 2011 when the state dismantled municipal redevelopment agencies.
The 25,000-square-foot building will be solar-powered and have rooftop landscaping, a dormitory, kitchen, exercise room and underground parking.
"Last year we opened San Diego's first new fire station in seven years, and now this will mark downtown's first new fire station in four decades,'' Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, referring to a station that began operating in November in Mission Valley.
"It's been a generation since a new fire station has been built downtown despite its transformation into a thriving community with a huge influx of residents, businesses and tourists since then,'' Faulconer said. "For every person who lives downtown or simply visits, this new fire station will get help to you faster.''
It will be the third downtown fire station, joining one near City Hall and another close to Petco Park. The funding includes the cost of a new fire engine and fire truck, according to the mayor's office.