MOMA proposes fire station project in SOMA

July 19, 2010 6:57:55 PM PDT
How would you like to live next door to one of the nation's busiest fire stations?

Residents in one South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco might find out. In an arrangement that is being called innovative, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is proposing to build a new state of the art $6 million fire station in exchange for the busy old one.

"That's going to be a big issue around here. Everybody needs to get some rest," a neighbor Ronaldo Colli said.

"We looked for adjacent space. We looked to the east and we looked to the west and finally we settled on that fire house," Neal Benezra from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art said.

That fire house was built in the early 1900s and would take millions to upgrade.

"It's in poor shape seismically, its unsound. There was an issue with the apparatus floor that houses the truck and the rescue squad," San Francisco Fire Department Deputy Chief Monica Fields said.

The museum would then use that space, which is adjacent to the museum, to expand. The expansion would provide room for the respected Fisher art collection. The new seismically-sound fire station would be built about four and a half blocks away. It would be in a mixed use area with businesses like a car wash, and a hardware store.

But, there are also a number of condos and apartments in the growing area.

One neighbor says the noise of sirens would be "annoying." ABC7 is told the station answered more than 13,000 calls last year. Mayor Gavin Newsom calls the swap a win-win situation for everyone because there would be no cost to taxpayers.

"It's a great idea. What else do you need to hear, it really is," he said. "You'll be blessed if you have an emergency if you have a fire station nearby."

The Board of Supervisors' Land Use Committee approved the arrangement this afternoon, but there will be many more hearings and an environmental review process.

The city estimates the new station could be complete in the Fall of 2012. The museum hopes its expansion will be ready by 2015 or 2016.


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