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The Ribaut Road fire station would grow by more than 50 percent to accommodate training and maintenance activities under preliminary plans approved by a city board Thursday.
The $1.9 million expansion and renovation project being planned by Charleston-based Liollio Architecture would increase the 25-year-old fire station from about 10,000 square feet to 15,600. The new space will include a kitchen, vehicle maintenance bay, workout facility and training room.
The training area would accommodate 80 trainees, which Fire Chief Wendell Wilburn said would enable Beaufort to host regional training sessions. Including volunteers, the city has 68 firefighters.
The one-story building would reach 26 feet at its tallest point and have a white stucco facade. Materials have not been selected for the rest of the building, but Liollio architect Brad Brown said he is hoping to use masonry, if cost permits.
The Beaufort Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved the height, mass and scale of the designs Thursday, though City Councilman Gary Fordham, who is on the commission, bashed the building's appearance.
"It looks like something I drew, and I don't draw so good," he said. "I know beauty's in the eye of the beholder, but that looks like a mishmash. That's ugly to me."
Brown, however, stressed that the project is in early design stages and many details will be improved before construction begins.
Fordham also expressed concerns about the existing building's flat roofs, which leak.
Wilburn said he wanted the renovation to add sloped, metal roofs, but that would cost up to $450,000. The project, as proposed, would include renovation of the existing rubber roof, which Brown said would be covered by a 20-year warranty.
Beaufort's Design Review Board, which must approve the designs at least twice before groundbreaking, will review the plans Thursday.
Designs should be completed and ready for contractor bids by the end of November, with construction slated to begin in January.
The project will be paid for with money from a $15 million bond issue the city completed last month, which will also help pay for a new city hall and a building to house the city's courts and police department.
Wilburn said the Mossy Oaks fire station is also in "dire need" of an upgrade, but the city has no plans to renovate it.