The plan to rebuild North Long Beach’s Fire Station 9 moved one step closer to approval after the Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to move the proposal along to the City Council, which could give final sign-off sometime early next year.
A proposed two-story, 12,780-square-foot station could be built at the intersection of Long Beach Boulevard and Randolph Place, just two blocks north of the site of the original Fire Station 9.
The original station, at 3917 Long Beach Blvd., was closed in mid-2019 after recurring mold issues, which sickened some firefighters and rendered the site unusable.
After originally relocating the fire apparatus from Station 9 to two different stations in west and east Long Beach, the city approved a three-year lease for an old Boeing fitness center near Cherry Avenue and Wardlow Road. The move allowed the fire apparatus to move closer to their service area in North Long Beach, and the new station could essentially return it to its previous location and help improve response times.
The proposed station is over two miles and several minutes in drive-time closer to the Virginia Country Club area that Fire Station 9 has historically served.
Some of the approvals the commission granted Thursday include a lot merger of the two parcels that will host the project as well as a larger curb cut along Randolph Place where the fire apparatus would enter and exit the three-bay garage at the new station.
While Long Beach does not yet have any electric fire vehicles, the garage would be large enough to accommodate one if the department acquires one in the future.
The cost of building a new station has been projected to be between $13 million and $20 million excluding the cost of land.
Community advocates had pushed for the old Station 9 to be designated as historic and to be reused by the city, but Long Beach sought to demolish the building and sell the land. The Planning Commission paused taking action on that last year.
In 2019, the city said it set aside about $6 million for the construction of the new station. The city’s most recent budget included another $3.2 million for Fire Station 9 improvements in the five-year infrastructure plan. It’s unclear where the remaining funding will come from to finish the project.
The City Council is expected to vote on the project in early 2023 and the city had previously projected that construction could take as long as three years.