City OKs $1M for fire station


Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.

The City Commission approved the approximately $1 million purchase of a city block on S. Main Street last Thursday as the future site of Fire Station No. 1.

Starting in late 2014, the city plans to construct a new, larger building to replace the 50-year-old station a short distance to the north.

Fire Chief Gene Prince said the 1.5-acre property that the city is purchasing will offer a larger footprint.

The property consists of two separately owned parcels that stretch from S. Main Street to SE 1st Street and from SE 5th Avenue to SE 6th Avenue. Each owner will receive $525,000 or 8.5 percent above appraised value.

The site is in the midst of a growing arts district along South Main. Three tenants — Everyman Sound Company, the Repurpose Project and The Church of Holy Color — will have to move and find a new location to make way for the fire station.

Those tenants will have until December 2014 to move. The city also plans to build parking for other businesses and nonprofits along South Main to replace the existing parking that will be lost due to the future fire station site.

Prince said his department looked at other locations, including Depot Park and the Power District, but did not move on them because they already had development plans. He said that, because of response times to calls, the department wanted to stay as close as possible to the existing station on South Main.

The purchase passed 5-1, with Mayor Ed Braddy in dissent and Yvonne Hinson-Rawls absent.

Braddy said he felt the city had not exhausted all location options and should see if the University of Florida had any property in the area to possibly donate. He noted that UF does not pay the city fire assessment but receives fire coverage from the city.

The purchase will not be finalized until the city gets the results of environmental testing on the property, where an auto repair shop used to occupy the building that is now home to the Repurpose Project.

Christopher Curry is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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