City staff managed to cut costs by roughly $300,000 by changing the original design.
The City Commission gave consensus Monday to allow city staff to continue the process of building the city’s third fire station.
City staff was directed to seek approval from the commission once the nearly 8,400-square-foot, three-bay station reached 30% of design completion and a cost estimate could be made.
In a presentation to the commission, Assistant City Manager Bill McDaniel said the cost of the fire station would be just more than $3.1 million. The 30% design stage, he said, includes current design elements, site work, supporting infrastructure, furnishings, and IT connections like fiber optics. The estimate also includes a 12% contingency for changes that might come as design continues.
McDaniel said staff was able to reduce the original cost estimate of the Wannemacher Jensen Architects design by about $300,000. The architects are used to designing for coastal areas, McDaniel said, including features not necessary for Plant City.
“No quality changes have been made,” McDaniel said. “Being further inland allowed for cost-saving changes in design criteria.”
Originally, McDaniel said, the station was set to cost about $319 per square foot. A fire station completed in Polk County in 2016 was built at about $250 per square foot and one in Wimauma, also built in 2016, at $250 per square foot, McDaniel said. According to the presentation, staff was able to reduce the cost to about $267 per square foot.
The new fire station is set to be built on the site of the current Plant City Tourist Information center, 1702 N. Park Road, which is expected to move to the Chamber of Commerce. It will divide the city into three response zones, allowing for quicker response times in the city’s northern section, which is primed for new development, and improving response times throughout the city, Deputy Fire Chief David Burnett said.
Currently, the city is divided into two zones with fire stations at 604 E. Alexander St. and 809 N. Alexander St.
“It’s going to help the services in that northeast quadrant quite a bit,” Burnett said. “It enables us to get on scene quicker within area zone because we’re not having to run a station across town from station 2 or station 1, especially if they’re on another call.”
A fire station in that section of the city, Burnett said, could reduce the damage caused by fires like the one at the Madison Park Road apartments in early May that displaced 30 people.
Burnett said Plant City Fire Rescue will work to reduce the Insurance Service Office rating for that area of the city, leading to a reduction in insurance costs for residents and businesses.
The new fire station is expected to be completed in late 2018. It would require the hiring of six firefighters, but vehicles would come from existing inventory. Much of the funding would come in the form of loan from the city’s solid waste budget, which City Manager Mike Herr said has enough to spare for the project. Herr recommended the loan be repaid in 14 annual installments, of $136,500 at a 1% interest rate.