The City of Cleveland introduced plans Thursday to build a brand-new police headquarters on the Opportunity Corridor, the $330 million roadway that's currently under construction and will ultimately connect I-490 to University Circle when it's completed in 2021.
While the costs for the proposed 10-acre police site near the intersection of E. 75th and Kinsman are as yet unknown, it'll be a good deal more expensive than the projected $60 million it would have cost to purchase and redesign the Plain Dealer building at 1801 Superior Ave.
The city pulled out of a deal to purchase that site for reasons that have yet to be clarified, though likely involved lease agreements with current tenants.
According to a presentation from Mayor Frank Jackson's Chief of Staff Sharon Dumas, Police Chief Calvin Williams and Economic Development director David Ebersole, the Opportunity Corridor site was one of roughly 30 that the city considered. After the PD building site fell through, four new sites were considered alongside an initial 24.
The Opportunity Corridor site is four miles from the central business district, further than the city said they intended to look at the outset. Ebersole said, though, that the construction of the police headquarters could help spur private commercial and industrial development along the Corridor. The city has been acquiring parcels in the area with the hopes of selling land to developers. Director Dumas added that it was difficult to find properties that met the city's specifications downtown.
The Cleveland Police currently operate out of headquarters at the Justice Center. The city sold that property to the county last year, planning to relocate in the near future. Their lease in that space expires in 2022.
Construction on the Opportunity Corridor site, if approved by the City Planning Commission and authorized by City Council, could begin as early as 2020.
Councilman Mike Polensek, Thursday, complained that council has been totally unaware of the city's progress on selecting a new site. He said he had been supportive of the Plain Dealer building plans but was frustrated because this was the first time he'd seen plans for the Opportunity Corridor site. Furthermore, he said, there wasn't any documentation supporting the decision. He asked for rankings of the other sites the city considered. He called the area surrounding the proposed site "desolate" and worried that the four-mile distance from the central city — "out in the hinterlands," — was less than ideal.
Councilman Brian Kazy echoed many of these concerns.
Sharon Dumas said that the site was unique in that it allowed for future expansion. The proposed "campus" could grow from 10 to 13 acres as it's constructed in phases.
Ebersole noted that the triangular shape of the site was not optimal for private development. He said that while the shape would be "awkward" for a traditional commercial facility, it was actually a "nice use" for the police plan, which would include a main building, auxiliary buildings and "significant parking."
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