The proposed South End Public Safety Center in New Bedford moved one step closer to becoming a reality on Friday with the announcement that the city has retained the award-winning Galante Architecture Studio to lead the study, design and construction of the facility.

The Galante Studio has extensive experience designing public safety facilities across the country, including projects for the City of Boston, the Boston Fire Department, the New York Fire Department, the City of New York and Harvard University.

"This is a well-established firm that has done successful projects all over the country," Mayor Jon Mitchell told WBSM News. "They understand the needs of both fire and police departments, but also neighborhoods and how neighborhoods interact with these kinds of facilities."

Mitchell said that the city hasn't had a new fire station in over 60 years or a new police station in 50 years, so the center is overdue.

"I just think it's so important that our (public safety) employees have modern facilities to do their jobs," Mitchell said. "The city doesn't have the money to build a whole new set of police and fire stations overnight, but like we did with the schools, we're going about the business of modernizing what the city has, so people can do their jobs well."

Mitchell said the study and design phase should take about nine months, and the new facility would be ready to open sometime in 2018.

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