Rebuilding of the vacant Tenleytown firehouse is set to begin this summer, following the D.C. City Council's approval last week of a contract to restore the historic building.
After a two-month bidding process, Washington-based Garcete Construction Co. was awarded the nearly $4 million contract to reconstruct the firehouse, which has been closed for two years.
Engine Company 20, housed at the Tenleytown station, at 4300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, has been operating out of Engine 31's station at 4930 Connecticut Ave. NW since another contractor began work on the building in June 2002, said Alan Etter, D.C. Fire Department spokesman.
"This is an important step in moving this process forward so that we can finally have Engine 20 back in service for this part of the city," Ward 3 council member Kathy Patterson said in a written statement.
The firehouse was built in 1901 and served mostly farmland in its early years. Renovations will allow it to accommodate taller, wider fire engines and ladder trucks. The work, which is expected to take a year, is set to begin next month.
The city terminated its relationship with the project's first contractor a year ago because the company had failed to complete the renovations on schedule. That contract was worth $2.9 million.
The increased price for the new contract reflects the continued deterioration of the site, as well as higher costs for steel and labor, according to the city's Office of Contracting and Procurement.
"We're very pleased that finally, after all this time, the project is moving towards completion," Etter said. "We're not just happy that we'll be able to bring the firefighters back, but we'll be able to deliver a high level of service to the community.''
The firehouse's closure has been unpopular among some of the neighborhood's residents, who have voiced concern over the safety ramifications of not having a working firehouse in the immediate area.
"This project has languished far too long," at-large council member Phil Mendelson said in a written statement. "Residents have been clamoring for action and rightfully so. This is a matter of public safety."
Amy McVey, chairman of the 3E Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said the building's designation as historic has hampered efforts to complete the renovations quickly. McVey also said that the renovations are inadequate, and that the building needs to expand to accommodate the area's booming population.
"We need our fire department back," McVey said. "But I think it's very unfortunate that we're building so small. But it will be nice to have the firetrucks back. Absolutely."