Monday, May 28, 2018
Public safety

Price tag of new St. Petersburg police headquarters, shooting range grows to $81 million

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — When Mayor Rick Kriseman announced in 2015 that there was enough money to construct a new, but long-delayed police headquarters, there was relief.

But 18 months later, amid soaring construction costs, that $70 million budget doesn't go as far as it once did.

City Council learned Thursday that the project will require another $11 million to pay for a secure parking garage next door to the new facility and to build a police shooting range about a mile away in Woodlawn Park.

To round out the new $81 million budget for both projects, the city plans to take out a 5-year loan at 2 percent interest to cover the costs. The new budget, however, may not be able to deliver city officials' complete vision for sustainability.

City architect Raul Quintana said the project is on schedule and could be completed by December 2018. That timeline also could synchronize with the culmination of another important project — the new St. Pete Pier.

Council member Steve Kornell said he is pleased with the plans.

"I think it's appropriate what they asking for and I'm in support of it," he said. "We are getting to a good place."

Focusing on sustainability, though, Kornell said he would like to see more extensive use of solar panels and would be willing to increase the budget to get them. He said there would be a quick payoff in savings.

While the project already incorporates a number of sustainable elements and will be "green" certified, the city will continue to work with the construction manager on further enhancements, Quintana said.

"We have already done some preliminary planning on several sustainability enhancements and will continue to explore this," he said in an email, such as using a geothermal system instead of a cooling tower.

The initial estimate for those could be between $1 million and $1.5 million, he said.

After Thursday's council briefing, city officials attended a ceremonial demolition of the police annex building at 1301 First Ave. N, where the new 167,519-square-foot headquarters will be built. Demolition will be completed in August.

Ward Friszolowski of Harvard Jolly Architecture took Council members through what he referred to as the conceptual design. In a nod to the Edge District — the neighborhood in which the new headquarters will be built across from the old facility — the design will include exposed steel, brick and metal panels.

It will feature a three-story administration wing, a two-story property and evidence wing and a fitness center. The building will be "robust," Friszolowski said, featuring enhanced impact windows and a double roof system that will be able to withstand at least a Category 4 hurricane.

It also will include the "latest and greatest strategies" in sustainability, including low water use and recylable materials, he said.

The Council spoke enthusiastically about the project that would move police officers out of the cramped, ancient and failing building they now occupy. Council member Charlie Gerdes, however, was concerned that the city's police force might soon outgrow the planned state-of-the-art headquarters.

"I don't want the space to be determined by the $53 million (construction budget)," he said, expressing a willingness to spend more to accommodate growth. "We have to do this well and right."

Assistant Police Chief Mike Kovacsev assured him that the new building was planned with an eye to the future.

"As it stands right now, this building is great for a headquarters," Police chief Anthony Holloway said, adding that at some point the city might consider building substations.

Plans for the new shooting range call for the gutting of the old range at 1845 13th Ave. N and renovating it to add classrooms. The new range will feature a modern ventilation system and simulation training. The armory and vehicle storage would be relocated to this area.

The $6.2 million cost for the new shooting range and training complex was never included in the $70 million budget for the new headquarters, Quintana said.

It was in January 2015 that Kriseman announced he had assembled $70 million for the financially constrained project. He told those gathered for his state of the city address that he had reached an agreement with Pinellas County to redirect $20 million in the city's share of Penny for Pinellas money to help build the new headquarters. The city had already set aside $50 million for the project.

Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2017. It is set to be finished by the end of 2018.

"I wish we were building it already," Gerdes said.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at @[email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

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