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News Review
New Public Safety Building: Putting Safety First
Posted Date: 2/7/2018

PSB 1

Renderings in design process and not final.

Since 2015, the City Commission has been publicly discussing the need to upgrade the Public Safety Building located at 2801 Salzedo Street, a deteriorating facility built in 1973 which houses the Police and Fire Departments, the Emergency Operations Centers, and other administrative offices. With a solid commitment to put the safety of our citizens above all other priorities, the Commission authorized last year a land exchange with a vacant parcel at 250 Minorca Avenue for the construction of a new public safety building on that site and an adjacent city-owned parking lot. This project, discussed at various public meetings and reviewed internally at numerous meetings with command members of both police and fire departments, is currently on schematic review – and not in the final design development stage.

Learn more about what the City of Coral Gables is doing to ensure this project addresses today’s public safety needs, as well as future growth, with a new state-of-the-art facility.

PSB2

Renderings in design process and not final.

The Project's Progress

1. The determination to build a new rather than renovate an obsolete 44-year-old building was conducted in a public setting following a detailed structural assessment by a third-party engineer. The current structurally unsound building on Salzedo Street is unable to store ladder trucks in the bays for fear they would collapse into the basement due to weight. An interdepartmental committee was formed to explore options. The Commission vote to proceed was 5-0 (Resolution 2015-102) in 2015.

2. The new location was recommended by an interdisciplinary team led by the Fire Department to ensure the best service for our residents. A location north of Alhambra was viewed as especially positive. The recommendation, including options and service areas, was presented at a Commission meeting and the recommendation was approved 5-0 by the City Commission in 2015 (Resolution 2015-308).

3. The vetting and selection of the design team was a competitive and open process guided by outside industry design and construction experts, including the Chairman of Engineering at the University of Miami, a highly regarded professor in Construction Management from FIU, and the recently retired Miami-Dade County Building Director and Building Official, who is also a Coral Gables resident. The charge to the committee was to select the very best design firm for this critically important project. The evaluation committee, in public and taped hearings, reviewed, inspected and questioned several qualified design firms and unanimously selected a highly credentialed firm that has designed and built more than 75 public safety buildings around the country. Their recommendation was forwarded to the City Commission and accepted. The City Commission accepted the staff recommendation to enter into a contract in March 2017 by a vote of 5-0 (Resolution 2017-74). A similar rigorous and credentialed review occurred for the selection of the contractor, in advance of design completion, so the contractor could have input in the efficiencies of the design. The recommendation to select the contractor was accepted by the City Commission 5-0 in a public setting.

4. The decision to acquire an adjacent parcel to benefit the footprint of the proposed public safety building, while also providing independent public parking, was approved 5-0 by the City Commission after considering the recommendations of City staff, outside experts, and advisory boards. The land swap, also approved 5-0 by the City Commission, allowed city operations to continue in the current building for three years while gaining early access to the adjacent property (Ordinance 2017-08).

5. In advance of the design process, detailed interviews were conducted with City departments to fully understand each of their specific requirements and the current operational deficiencies inherent in the existing building. The new Public Safety Building architectural design is based on a thorough evaluation of personnel and operational requirements to enhance response and efficiency. Numerous meetings were held with Command members of both Police and Fire to ensure operational requirements. As a result, additional fire bays were assigned and expanded, and an additional 5,600 square feet was added to the fire floor plan. As programming and layout were refined, additional feedback occurred through scheduled meetings, including the holding of a Commission Workshop on the project. Recently, the Deputy Fire Chief and Operations Chief reviewed the layout on behalf of the Fire Department, visited nearby fire stations in downtown Miami — all with return back-in of fire trucks — and signed off in support of the new design and layout.

6. The proposed new Public Safety Building is larger than the existing building at 2801 Salzedo. The current building, excluding parking, is 88,000 square feet. The new building is 116,600 square feet, excluding parking. A well-designed building is more than just square footage. The relationship of the interior and exterior spaces is crucial in providing a healthy and productive work environment.

7. The layout of the new station is operationally far more efficient and provides for vastly superior working conditions than the existing outdated facility.

8. The new Public Safety Building will have six bays for fire vehicles and will not require any emergency vehicles to be stacked. The typical bay in the new station is a 30 ft. wide double-bay arrangement minimizing the number of columns and providing enhanced ingress and egress of emergency vehicles. In the existing facility, some of the bays needed to be used for storage and an outdoor fitness center.

9. The fifth floor of the new Public Safety Building is the training floor and will be used by both Police and Fire including field operations simulation, driver simulation, classrooms, and fitness.

10. The City’s consultant, which has designed 75 public safety buildings nationally, has thoroughly reviewed all turning radius requirements for egress and backup ingress into the apparatus bays and determined that the width of the street, Alcazar Avenue, exceeds the needed requirements. In addition, parking on both sides of Alcazar Avenue will be removed and the traffic light at the Alcazar/Salzedo intersection will be controlled by Fire Department response personnel.

11. Central Fire Station 2 at 525 S. Dixie Highway is undergoing a multimillion dollar renovation due to its central location, including physical expansion and additional vehicle bays. The renovation will add four bays and 11,437 square feet to the facility, more than doubling the size of the building and tripling the number of bays for emergency vehicles.

The proposed Public Safety Building will be a modern, state-of-the-art public safety facility, incorporating the most modern design principles and technology and sustainable for high winds storm conditions. The City has adopted a new and ongoing maintenance protocol to prevent seriously deferred and costly maintenance, introducing a highly professional and credentialed design team in place.