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$6.5m renovation of historic Central Fire Station nears end

Central Fire Station, ArlingtonArlington's historic Central Fire Station.

Police, fire buildings get new names

UPDATED, July 10: After four years of planning and construction, the $6.5 million restoration and renovation of Arlington’s Central Fire Station is nearing completion, with final move in slated for mid-July, the project architect says.

At the same time, renovations at 112 Mystic St. are enter its final stages, and the Community Safety Building is now called APD HQ, while the Central Fire Station is AFD HQ.

Effective Monday, July 12, Arlington began the last phase of the renovation of the building known as the Community Safety Building.

For the building to remain open throughout the one-year construction project, visitors to the Arlington police headquarters will be directed to the appropriate department by temporary signs.

The building will be reconfigured in order to better accommodate the Police Department and to provide enhanced safety and efficiency for officers, personnel, detainees and visitors. Part of this reconfiguration will be the relocation of the Fire Department administration to the newly renovated headquarters at the Central Fire Station. Read the full details at arlingtonma.gov/police

Widely regarded as an historic icon along Mass. Ave. in Arlington Center, preservation of the exterior was a primary goal of Donham & Sweeney of Boston and town officials. Except for the new all-glass garage doors, which replaced the modern -- but tired -- conventional solid-steel doors, the recent repairs restored the exterior facades to their original appearance.

Fire Chief Robert Jefferson hailed the architects' "superior attention to historical details" and ability to provide Arlington with a "vivid example of how historic buildings can retain their beauty and stature while achieving a lifetime of civic usefulness."

Sustainability was another primary goal of the project. "Not only does this project preserve the historic character of the building, when completed it will earn LEED Gold certification, a new level of sustainable achievement for the Town of Arlington," Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said in a news release.

Donham & Sweeney’s renovation work began with redesigning the interior to return the fire administration offices to the building, as they were previously situated in the Community Safety Building at Mystic and Summer.

A thoroughly modernized interior layout now includes a complete overhaul of the building systems, interior partitions and finishes. Some architectural items from the original design were preserved, including decorative corbels and brickwork in the apparatus bay and a decoratively painted mantel piece on the second floor.

The project began in June 2014 and was budgeted in the fiscal 2015 capital plan at $6.05 million. A spokeswoman for the architect said July 6 that the project budget was $6.5 million.

It involved a complete demolition and remodeling of the interior of the building.

A town news release in May 2014 says it would incorporate modernized heating, electrical and plumbing systems as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center and training classroom.

Expected costs increased because of "general escalation in building trade pricing and the need for additional reinforcement of weight-bearing floors," a 2014 capital planning report to Town Meeting says.

The Central Fire Station was built in 1926, when its unique, five-bay design was a response to the odd intersection of Broadway and Mass. Ave. The building’s frame has remained mostly unchanged.

On completion, fire headquarters will be home to Engine 1, Ladder 1, the AFD's administration and operations divisions, Arlington Emergency Management Agency and Jefferson.

The building will be designed to accommodate as many as 15 people and five key pieces of apparatus.  

During the renovation, Engine 1 has remained on the apparatus floor. Its personnel have been housed in a trailer, on the Broadway side of the headquarters parking lot.

Ladder 1 and its personnel will relocate to the Highland Station at 1007 Mass. Ave.

For additional information about the Arlington Fire Department or this project, email AFDOperations at town.arlington.ma.us or visit arlingtonma.gov/fire.

The Boston architectural firm was originally selected by the town to complete a space-needs analysis and master plan for two of the town’s three fire stations. The firm, which specializes in the study and design of public-safety facilities, was then chosen to design and oversee construction and renovations to the town’s Highland and Central fire stations.

Both buildings are listed on the Historic Register and required careful planning with the town’s Historical Commission, Permanent Town Building Committee and Fire Department. Highland Station was completed in 2011 and achieved LEED Silver, making it the town’s first LEED-certified public building.

The general contractors for the project are Boston Building & Bridge Corp.  of Milton. The design team includes structural engineers Roome & Guarrancino of Somerville; mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers Garcia, Galuska, DeSousa Consulting Engineers; geotechnical consultants McPhail Associates of Cambridge; commissioning consultants Andelman and Lelek Engineering of Norwood; and cost estimators A.M. Fogarty & Associates of Hingham.

The owner’s project manager is PMA Consultants of Braintree.

Donham & Sweeney Architects says it has designed and completed 48 public safety facilities, 10 municipal facilities, 25 religious buildings, more than 2,000 units of residential housing, including market- rate and low-income, historical preservation.


Oct. 16, 2012: Highland Station gets key green award

Aug. 3, 2011: Revamped Highland Station: energy-efficiency, much-improved living conditions


This report was published Monday, July 6, 2015, and updated July 10.

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