Restoration efforts continue in the transformation of the Columbia Central Fire Station located at 1001 Senate St. in the Vista.
The two-story, 20,800-square-foot project will feature restaurant, office and retail space. Chris Spach, president and CEO of general contractor SouthCon Building Group LLC, said there are two leases in place, including a Thai restaurant and another restaurant that will occupy the first floor with an event space on the second floor.
The project is expected to be completed in March.
The building, placed on the historic registry in 2009, was sold to Wheeler Development in 2015. Wheeler immediately began pre-construction and design work.
“One of the unique aspects of the building will be the addition of a rooftop patio that will go with the event space,” Spach said. “It’s been an undertaking modifying the existing structure.”
John Bouvette, a project manager, said a steel addition will help support the patio.
In Jan. 2016, the project received approval from Columbia’s Design/Development Review Commission to begin exterior changes. Spach said the building was in disrepair, with lead paint that had be removed and broken windows that needed repairing.
Bouvette said the city wanted to keep and maintain the original metal windows. Crews needed to get new glass and reseal each window.
“We were able to restore and repair the windows to the original structure, but we had to remove the fire doors and replace them with modern,” Spach said. “The most difficult part has been the utility improvements.”
Spach said his group had to bring natural gas to the site while also upgrading the water and sewer systems.
All services and utilities and mechanical and electrical systems will be updated, along with the building’s fire alarm and passenger elevator. Site improvements include storm drainage, patio paving, landscape, lighting and a decorative fence.
The Columbia Central Fire Station was built between 1949 and 1951 and served as the Columbia Fire Department’s Headquarters from 1950 until 1995.
This article first appeared in the Oct. 9 print edition of the Columbia Regional Business Report.