Right now, it is just a 2-acre lot on a big tract of wooded land on Lenox Avenue, just east of the Cedar River on Jacksonville’s Westside.
But the second generation of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Station 22 will rise there in about nine months.
City and fire department staff gathered early Tuesday to break ground on the $6.5 million station, on 2 acres the Potter’s House church sold to the city for about $280,000.
Staffed with six firefighters, an engine and a rescue unit, the new station is there because Chief Keith Powers and the Rev. Vaughn McLaughlin, Potter’s House pastor, saw a need in the community when they visited the area recently.
“The bishop said, ‘It just so happens we own 30 or 40 acres right here, and we would love to partner with you and provide you with some land, sell you some land,'” Powers said. “They sold it at a very discounted price because they wanted to be a great partner in this. The Potter’s House really helped us out, and they are really going to help this community out.”
Tuesday’s groundbreaking came just under two months after the $7 million Fire Station 47 was started on Gold Star Family Parkway and Lannie Road on the Northside, becoming one of a multitude of stations the city has started or opened this year.
The new Station 22 will replace the current site just under two miles away at 2032 Jammes Road. That station was built in 1966 as a volunteer firefighter facility and never designed to handle a full fire crew and equipment, Powers said. Its crew currently handles more than 6,000 emergency runs a year in its Westside district and needed a newer, bigger home.
The Westside community where the new station is planned also will benefit from Station 75 at Wilson Boulevard and Interstate 295, Powers said. That $6.5 million facility, planned to open in July with six firefighters, a rescue truck and a fire engine, will service some of Station 22’s territory and further reduce overall response times, Powers said.
“When we get this station open, it will spread out those runs and the response in this area,” Powers said. “That will help us reduce response times for our citizens.”
The fire station is not the only planned development on the wooded property just west of Lane Avenue.
Vestcor Cos. Inc. plans to build 90 affordable apartments for adults age 55 and over on 7.5 acres at Lenox and Lane avenues. The undeveloped land was also sold by the Potter’s House, which is about a half-mile away. Completion of the $23 million Melissa Grove complex is set for early next year, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record, a WJCT News partner.
Other recent station openings include Station 65 in late March on Bailey Body Road off Arlington Road — officially opened at a cost of $7.5 million. Almost two years ago, fire officials opened the $7 million Station 63 on Gate Parkway as well as the $5.5 million Fire Station 74 at the e-Town Parkway.
In late January, ground was broken for a station on Harts Road north of Dunn Avenue area, on the site of a former bank, the ninth fire station started by the city in the past two years.