Mayor Bill Foster today proposed building a new headquarters for the St. Petersburg Police Department, one piece at a time, with money scraped together from a variety of sources.
The new "police campus" is in lieu of a $64-million police station the city can no longer afford. The target budget is now $40 million.
"The $65-million proposal had a lot of really neat things and had the 'Oh wow' and cool factor," Foster told FOX 13 News. "The $40-million one will meet the needs, but it just may not be as cool."
Over the past two years, the city has acquired most of the land to the immediate north of the existing police station on First Avenue N. That is where a new 110,000-square-foot building, hardened to withstand Category 5 hurricanes, will be located. It will house critical services, such as communications.
A second building, either on-site or nearby, will be less impregnable to accommodate training facilities.
The city's emergency operations center will remain inside a new hurricane-hardened water department building across the street from the police campus.
A storm-resistant parking garage for police cruiser has also been excised from original plans. The newer half of the existing police station will be salvaged, at least for now.
"The most fragile key thing here is, whatever we do, we can't trigger building permits," public works director Mike Conners told a city council workshop. "If we do, we're going to...spend good money after bad."
Conners said construction could begin within 18 months.
St. Petersburg's current police station is comprised of two old office buildings joined together. One half was built in the 1930's and the other half in the 1970's. The department outgrew that combined space years ago, and a new police station was the city's flagship project when voters last approved the Penny for Pinellas capital improvements sales tax.
At that time, $50 million was allocated for the project, but the recession drove pro-rated collections down to $32 million.
Foster proposes taking $8 million from other city projects to come up with $40 million for the police campus.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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