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City fast-tracks legislation to begin construction process for new police headquarters

Cleveland police
Posted at 4:38 PM, Nov 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-25 17:50:47-05

CLEVELAND — The proposed location for the new Cleveland Division of Police headquarters underwent more scrutiny by City Council Monday morning as the legislation allowing the city to purchase remaining parcels of land and begin design work was passed through the Municipal Services and Properties Committee.

The proposed 180,000 square foot public safety campus would be located on Grand Avenue near East 75th Street, a largely vacant tract of land that will be flanked by the soon-to-be-built Opportunity Corridor. City leaders unveiled the preferred location earlier this month. Members of Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration said the site was selected because of its proximity to public transit and abundance of available land. A majority of the parcels in the project area are already publicly-controlled, whether they are owned by the city or the land bank.

Despite the location already being identified, the scope and cost of the project remain unknown. At Monday’s meeting of Council’s Municipal Services and Properties Committee, council members approved legislation that will allow the city to purchase the remaining parcels of land as well as begin the long process of design.

“This is probably the one and only time… in a very long time we’re ever going to build a new police headquarters,” said Councilman Brian Kazy. “I’m asking if everybody has dotted their I’s and crossing their T’s to make sure that we’re building a facility where we’re not going to come back later and say, ‘uh oh.’”

The new CPD headquarters will be designed in a way that it will resemble a public safety campus instead of standalone building. The campus will be comprised of a significant number of the division’s units, including the specialty traffic units, SWAT vehicle storage, new evidence and storage rooms, as well as the real time crime center. Command staff will also be housed at the new headquarters and there will be space available for the police academy, officials said.

Currently, the divisions assets are spread across multiple different facilities downtown and across the city. Housing most of the division’s assets under one roof or on one campus will lead to greater communication and efficiency, city officials said.

Councilman Tony Brancatelli questioned whether the city should financially commit to a project site without knowing the projected cost. City leaders said they could not provide an estimated cost without having completed the design work, which is expected to take most of 2020.

“Are we committing to a $200 million build out,” Councilman Brancatelli said. “That’s our concern. As voting members is what are we committing to?”

The new proposed location comes roughly a year after the city’s tentative deal to acquire Plain Dealer Plaza at 1801 Superior Avenue fell apart at the last minute. The deal reportedly quickly disintegrated because of the leases held by two longtime tenants of the building.

City Finance Director Sharon Dumas said the administration was excited about the deal to acquire 1801 Superior Avenue but was forced to seek other options quickly. As part of the year-long process, the site selection committee considered more than two dozen sites that were initially identified, as well as five new sites that recently were considered.

The city already has more than $55 million allocated for the project through general obligation bond proceeds from 2018. It is possible, however, that the new headquarters will may require more investment.

“Given that we’ve never done a police headquarters before and know what the requirements would be, it was an estimate of sorts,” said Finance Director Sharon Dumas. “Building it from the ground (up) may exceed that. As we get estimates and we get the police needs we’ll determine what’s immediate.”