Charleston soon will begin building its largest fire station ever — a five-bay building with the fire department’s headquarters on the second floor.

Mayor Joe Riley said bids on the new station No. 9, will serve the entire city from its central Neck Area location.

It’s expected to cost about $5.5 million, and bids are due later this month. Construction could begin this summer and end in late 2013.

The building will replace the much smaller station at King and Heriot streets, a structure that currently houses a fire truck but not any firefighters because of mold problems.

The brick, metal and glass design for Station No. 9, done by Rosenblum Coe Architects, is expected to qualify for a silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, which reviews a building’s energy use both during construction and its daily operation.

“It’s already an award winning design and it hasn’t been constructed yet,” Riley said, adding the Fire Industry Equipment Research Organization has recognized the building’s architectural plan.

Its completion will mark an end of an era for the city’s historic central fire station at Meeting and Wentworth streets, one of the department’s first stations and its long-time headquarters. That station will keep operating and will continue to serve as a sort of museum to the city’s firefighting history.

Read more in tomorrow’s Post and Courier.