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Buckhorn plans new Tampa police headquarters

The Tampa Police Department has operated its headquarters out of the downtown building since 1996.
The Tampa Police Department has operated its headquarters out of the downtown building since 1996.
Published Feb. 11, 2015

TAMPA — One task awaiting Tampa's next police chief will be to help plan for a new police headquarters.

"The existing police station site has outlived its usefulness," Mayor Bob Buckhorn told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. He intends to start the planning for a new police station as he puts together a budget for 2016.

One Police Center at 411 N Franklin St. is a former SunTrust Bank building that has served since Mayor Dick Greco's administration bought it in 1996 for $2.95 million.

But the costs of maintaining the structure that Buckhorn calls "Big Blue" are on the rise, and he said "it makes no sense for me to put money into a building that's obsolete."

Buckhorn expects that he will have no problem finding developers who are interested in buying the headquarters site, which includes a parking garage, and either tearing down the police building to build something new or renovating the existing structure as a private development.

The 10-story headquarters was built in 1962 and has a market value of $10.7 million, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office.

Buckhorn said he prefers that a new police headquarters be in the urban core of the city, but he doesn't know that it has to be in the heart of downtown's central business district. The city could build, lease space or move into a renovated building.

Buckhorn doesn't anticipate that the department, most of whose officers work out of three substations around Tampa, would spend the $70 million that St. Petersburg plans to budget for its new police headquarters.

That's partly because Tampa's headquarters also is home to city employees in other departments who can be moved to existing city facilities. As a result, Buckhorn said, the new headquarters might not need to be as large.

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times.

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