Just a Fire Station in Arlington

Just a Fire Station in Arlington

No mixed-use for Fire Station 8.

The controversy of Fire Station 8 has mostly passed. Whether or not the station would move away from the neighborhood it has traditionally served was settled last year when the County Board decided it would remain in place, but what shape the new fire station takes is still to be decided.

At a work session on Sept. 26, County Manager Mark Schwartz and the County Board members seemed to agree that despite the county’s crunch for land, a multi-story mixed use fire station like Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn would not be appropriate for Fire Station 8.

In both land and money, a multi-story, mixed use Fire Station 8 would be costly. New floors could add up to 10,000 to 30,000 square feet of new space to the building, which could be rezoned to have non-fire station related uses. But this new space would also require an additional 34 to 102 new spaces of parking depending on how many levels were added, which would mean the acquisition of two to six new parcels of land around the site, including an existing commercial property, to build more parking. Separate access to the upper floors would also be required, which presents another design challenge. The aquisition of the new parcels and other design challenges of a mixed-use fire station would add between $9.1 to $25 million to the project’s estimated cost. It would also add six to nine months to the project’s development timeline.

During the commentary, members of the County Board agreed with the county manager’s assessments that the costs of a mixed-use fire station outweighed the benefit for this development. Construction on the project is estimated to begin in Fall 2018 with completion in Fall 2021. Design for the new fire station will continue as the project seeks funding in the upcoming FY2019 CIP budget.

“We’re at the conceptual stage right now,” said Schwartz. “At the next point, we want to sit down with members of the community. The answer [at this site] has to be something the community pursues that is significant and calls out the sacrifices this community made and the proud history of the original fire service that was segregated.”