A rendering by SVPA Architects in West Des Moines of Des Moines’ new fire station that will be located at 4144 Hubbell Ave.  Special to the Business Record

City crews Wednesday began tearing down a 61-year-old hotel in northeast Des Moines to prepare for the construction of a new fire station.

“Just having the station in that location will cut the travel distance down in northeast Des Moines,” Fire Chief John TeKippe said. “The people who live and have businesses in that area will have a station much closer to them.”

In January, the city of Des Moines bought the former Relax Inn at 4144 Hubbell Ave. and the three acres it sat on for $795,000. The hotel closed in 2018. 

Construction of the fire station, the 11th in the city, is expected to be completed by spring 2021. The project, including construction and architectural designs, is estimated to cost $8.3 million. 

In March, Des Moines voters approved increasing the sales tax to 7% from 6%. Money from that tax increase will be used to pay for some of the firefighters who work out of the new firehouse, city officials have said.

TeKippe said a federal grant had been used to pay for the salaries of 13 new firefighters. Money from the sales tax “will help us maintain those positions,” he said.

On Wednesday, the city released designs for the new fire station by SVPA Architects in West Des Moines.

TeKippe and others visited several area and regional fire stations to get ideas for Des Moines’ new station. One thing that will be included is a decontamination area built between the area where the fire engines are parked and firefighters’ living quarters. 

“Firefighters will be able to get themselves clean before going into the living portions of the station,” TeKippe said. “This will lower our contamination on a daily basis. … Cancers and infectious diseases are one of the biggest threats to firefighters.”

The new station will also include workout space that is separate from the living areas. The building will have some solar power and will be surrounded by grassy areas that will help with rainwater retention. It will also be handicapped accessible.

“Some of our older fire stations were designed and built in the 1940s,” TeKippe said. “This one will be designed so everyone can have access.”