Roswell approves turning an old fire station into a makerspace

Two women work at a makerspace in Dayton, Ohio. Roswell hopes to open its makerspace within two months.

Two women work at a makerspace in Dayton, Ohio. Roswell hopes to open its makerspace within two months.

An old fire station in Roswell is getting a new purpose.

At its meeting last week, Roswell councilmembers unanimously approved for the vacant Fire Station No. 4 at 1601 Holcomb Bridge Road to be transformed into a makerspace called “Roswell FireLabs.”

The proposal was brought forth by Councilman Marcelo Zapata. Flipping the station into the makerspace will cost between $112,000 to $200,000, according to Michael Fischer, the deputy city administrator.

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You might ask, what exactly is a makerspace?

It’s a place where people with shared ideas and interests can gather to work on projects while sharing equipment and knowledge. If you put a wood shop, a metal shop, a computer lab, arts and crafts, electronics and a bunch of tools all under one roof, you’d have a makerspace.

Makerspaces are popping up across metro Atlanta, with locations in Decatur, Marietta, Lawrenceville, Alpharetta, Cumming and Intown Atlanta.

David MacNair, a professor at Georgia Tech and the co-founder of Southeast Maker Alliance, has been pushing for a makerspace in Roswell for more than a year.

“Roswell is such an amazing community, but the thing that I found missing was bringing people together to build things, to make things and to mentor one another,” MacNair said.

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MacNair, 32, who has a PhD in robotics, started the push for a makerspace in Roswell after participating in the city’s citizen police academy. There, the Tennessee native who has lived in Roswell for about two and half years, started floating the ideas to city leaders.

He then took city councilmembers and others on tours of other makerspaces in metro Atlanta. Then he started looking for a spot for Roswell.

Last June, he found the fire station and says it’s an ideal spot because of its high ceilings and large open floor space. There’re rooms for events and large-scale projects, and MacNair added that the station’s big windows will allow anyone to see what the makers are working on.

The old No. 4 fire station has been vacant since April 2017 when Roswell opened a new two-story station on Old Alabama Road.

There is already interest for the space. A page on called “Roswell Makers Meetup” has 132 members as of Monday.

“This is a perfect example of the many ways our community can work together,” said Roswell mayor Lori Henry.

Once renovations for the building are complete, the makerspace will be operated by Atlanta Maker Alliance. The group will also pay the city for the building’s bills, such as water, electric, gas, internet service and the upkeep of the property.

MacNair said he’s hoping for a soft opening within the next two months, depending on the speed of renovations.

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Johns Creek Police say Jason Lappe, 44, robbed a Kroger on Holcomb Bridge Road last Saturday morning.