Dirt should start moving very soon to make way for the new South San Francisco police station, as city officials approved a contract with a company tapped to build the first phase of the new civic center campus.

The South San Francisco City Council unanimously approved during a meeting Wednesday, Jan. 8, to hire Swinerton Builders to construct the new station proposed at the corner of Chestnut Avenue and Antoinette Lane.

Sealing the $47.5 million deal sets the stage for work to begin as soon as next month, and officials anticipated the project to be completed by August 2021, according to video of the meeting. It should open in the early part of 2022.

The overall project budget is $56 million, which includes almost $5 million in unassigned contingencies. Swinerton was the lowest bid among two finalists for the project, about $1.3 million less than Skanska USA.

Mayor Rich Garbarino shared his excitement for the project moving ahead.

“This new state-of-the-art police operations center will give police the tools they need to continue doing a great job,” he said.

Meanwhile, Councilman Mark Nagales shared his expectation that the project would stay on track.

“I want to see this completed on time,” said Nagales.

Representatives from project manager Kitchell Corporation attempted to assure officials the new station would be delivered on time and on budget. As part of the effort to build confidence, Kitchell representatives said the builders hired from Swinerton are different from the project management arm of the same corporation.

The delineation was necessary to address concerns regarding potential conflict of interest raised by Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto, who noted Swinerton has been hired to complete a variety of other projects for the city.

Matsumoto also raised concerns that the new facility would be sufficient to accommodate growth in the police department, which is projected to accommodate an evolving community.

To that end, Matsumoto said the 28,000 workers east of Highway 101 is expected to jump to nearly 50,000 by 2040, which would require additional residential development to accommodate the jobs and housing imbalance.

The population and economic growth would further necessitate additional emergency response personnel, said Matsumoto, who wanted to make certain that officials would not be soon asked for additional funds to improve the new police facility.

But Police Chief Jeff Azzopardi confirmed the new station would offer the department plenty of room to grow. The facility is designed to accommodate up to 154 members of the department, which currently has 123 members.

“We feel that we will comfortably fit into this building for the next 30 or 40 years,” said Azzopardi, who noted the building also features conference rooms which eventually be renovated to serve as offices, if necessary.

The station is expected to spread office space, classrooms, evidence storage, training spaces and more uses through a main, two-story building and adjacent single-story supplementary building. In all, the two buildings are proposed to offer almost 45,000 square feet.

The station is the initial phase of construction for a new civic center campus. Officials are hopeful to break ground this summer on the 70,000-square-foot facility housing the library, parks and recreation center, among other facilities. The final phase of work will be rebuilding the fire station currently located at the nearby Municipal Services Building, which could begin in 2022.

Officials have said the new police station is badly needed, as the existing facility is no longer seismically sound and cannot accommodate all the storage needs for officers. To that end, officials said a holding cell at the existing facility is currently being used to keep evidence.

After years of being squeezed into an aging station, Azzopardi said officers eagerly anticipate the spacious confines offered by the new facility.

“We will have a little breathing room,” he said.

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