By Catherine Spearnak
Groundbreaking on the long-awaited San Diego City Fire Station 5 at the corner of Ninth Street and University Avenue in central Hillcrest has been postponed while the city looks for temporary digs for firefighters and their engine.
A temporary firehouse was planned at the intersection of Park Boulevard and Polk Avenue, said Mónica Muñoz, senior public information officer for the city. But plans were called off recently due to a a lawsuit, she said.
“The financing for this fire station comes from a $120 million deferred capital bond,” Muñoz said. “Because of litigation, the bond was delayed more than six months, causing the initiation of the bid and award phase to be delayed. Because of this delay, we were not able to commit to leaving the proposed site in time to meet the terms of the lease.”
An alternate site has not yet been selected, she added.
“The city’s Real Estate Assets Department is looking for a new site,” Muñoz said.
One engine company — four firefighters and a battalion chief — will be displaced to the temporary station.
Station 5, built in 1951, is the city’s fifth oldest fire station. Much of the infrastructure of Station 5, mostly plumbing and electrical, is outdated and beyond service life or ability to upgrade. Also, the station is simply too small for the evolving needs of the department, Munoz said.
The new firehouse is designed by the renowned local architect Rob Wellington Quigley, who designed Downtown’s new domed library and The New Children’s Museum as well as the Ocean Discovery Institute [‘It’s a ticket out,’ Vol. 7, Issue 14], a student science lab soon to break ground in City Heights.
Construction of the station will cost about $7 million, Munoz said, and is estimated to take 18 to 24 months.
The new firehouse will measure 10,590 square feet and will be two stories, Quigley said. It will feature nine dorm rooms, a kitchen and dining area, an exercise room, a lounge and three bays for apparatus.
“Extensive daylighting design strategies will minimize electrical use in the building,” according to a description in a pamphlet from Quigley’s office. “Light tubes and skylights will naturally illuminate the hallways, stairs and equipment bays. Clear glass will be used at the first story entry way and watch room to avoid the ‘nobody home’ personality of the first station.”
A date for groundbreaking will be set once a new temporary location for the fire station is found, Munoz said.
—Catherine Spearnak is a San Diego-based freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.