Stillwater armory & fire station 13120 75th St. (County Road 12), Stillwater

Type: Public

Size: 79,465 square feet (armory), 29,600 square feet (fire station)

Site: 18.9 acres

Cost: $6.9 million (fire station)

Details: After years of discussion, the Stillwater City Council this week gave the go-ahead for the special use permits and rezoning needed to construct a $6.9 million municipal fire station as part of a joint project with the Minnesota National Guard for a new armory on the outskirts of the Washington County city.

The approvals came only after city leaders this fall downsized the fire station plans from 34,325 to 29,600 square feet and its price tag from $8.4 million to $6.9 million. The new, seven-bay station would replace the current facility at City Hall near downtown Stillwater, which officials say is insufficient to serve the city's expanding western reaches.

Federal funding for the new $17.5 million Guard armory, meanwhile, is awaiting approval from Congress, which is expected early in 2013. It will include major elements to be open to the public, including an assembly hall that doubles as a gymnasium, a commercial-grade kitchen and three classrooms.

Until then, further design work on the fire station has been put on hold, city officials indicated. In most cases, cities hosting new armories with public facilities are required to pay 25 percent of the cost, but in Stillwater's case, the city instead donated 11.9 acres of the 18.9-acre site to the Minnesota State Armory Building Commission.

Under a construction timeline submitted by city planners, should Congress approve the armory funding early in 2013, construction on the fire station could begin first, starting late in the year, and be ready for occupancy in late 2014.

If the armory funding is delayed until later in 2013, both projects would begin together in April 2014 and be completed by October 2015.

Don Jacobson is a freelance writer in St. Paul.