The city of Beaufort is about two months away from breaking ground on a new fire station, and less than a year from its expected completion date.
Bids will be accepted from prequalified contractors between Aug. 15 and 30, according to the city. Construction is scheduled to begin in September.
The new station will be at 1120 Ribaut Road, the midpoint between Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department headquarters and the Port Royal station at 1750 Paris Ave.
The city has about $2.2 million for the station remaining from bonds sold in 2008 to raise money for projects that included the new City Hall and a courts and police building.
The current plan is for a 10,000-square-foot neighborhood station to replace the aging Mossy Oaks station at 2519 Mossy Oaks Road. Designs have been approved by the Design Review Board in accordance with the city's Civic Master Plan, although some additional revisions are underway, city special projects planner Lauren Kelly said.
The two-story, red-brick fire station will face Ribaut Road, so engines can pull directly onto the main thoroughfare. Parking and vehicle access will be to the south through a rear alley, according to designs.
The design is flexible, so it could be expanded -- with additional engine bays and office space to later convert the building into headquarters.
During the past year, the plan has been altered by city officials and architect Hussey Gay Bell & DeYoung of Savannah to reduce its size and cost. Changes include narrower halls of 4 feet instead of 5 feet wide, and smaller living, sleeping and kitchen areas.
"Fire stations nowadays are being built to be spacious and accommodating, and I think sometimes we lose touch with the real needs of a fire station," Fire Chief Sammy Negron said. "Fire stations today are complex in a sense that they provide not only sleeping areas and a bay for apparatus, but also areas for interacting with the public."
City manager Scott Dadson said trimming about 1,300 square feet has reduced cost estimates by 10 percent, but detailed numbers won't be known until final bids are submitted.
The Mossy Oaks station being replaced was built in 1970 to house one firefighter. Three to four firefighters are regularly stationed there now, Negron said.
The city originally planned to use $2.5 million from the bonds to renovate and expand headquarters at 135 Ribaut Road. That plan was scrapped in 2009. City officials blamed the recession. In 2010, officials began discussing replacing the Mossy Oaks station, with either a neighborhood station or a new headquarters.
Construction on the new neighborhood station is scheduled to be completed within 10 months of the bid's approval.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.