police-light-bar1.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined police and fire officials Thursday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the city’s new Public Safety Building.

The new building, located at Third and Mission Rock streets in the city’s Mission Bay neighborhood, will house the police command center, the Southern Police Station and a neighborhood fire station when it opens sometime in 2014.

The move from the current location of police headquarters at the antiquated Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. was funded by a $412 million bond measure passed by 79 percent of city voters in June 2010.

Lee said the move will not come a moment too soon because the Hall of Justice “is one of the most dangerous buildings we’re still forced to use.”

The county jail, various criminal courts and the district attorney’s office will remain at the 850 Bryant St. building following the Police Department’s departure.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said today was “a very celebratory day for police and fire” to move into a building “that can withstand just about any natural or man-made disaster.”

Suhr, a 30-year veteran of the Police Department, said there are certainly things he will not miss about the Hall of Justice, which was built in 1958.

“The air conditioning and ventilation in that place, it takes like no time in there at all to think that it’s not healthy being in there,” he said.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said it was fitting that the groundbreaking was occurring so close to the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of New York firefighters responding to the World Trade Center.

“The best way to honor their memory is to make sure we move forward with resiliency in public safety,” Hayes-White said.

The new six-story building is designed to provide functional resiliency for up to 96 hours after a major disaster or earthquake.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who also attended today’s groundbreaking, said the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes showed the fragility of San Francisco’s infrastructure.

Chiu said the construction of the building is helping the city “make sure we’re ready for the next one.”

For more information on steps the city is taking to protect its public safety facilities through the bond measure passed in June 2010, visit sfearthquakesafety.org.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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