Coral Gables is about to take a milestone step toward building a new state-of-the-art police and fire headquarters — choosing a builder.
The city approved a deal in March to clear the way for moving from 2801 Salzedo St. to a new location that’s about a half-mile north. The provisions of a complicated land swap require the city to move into the new building in three years or pay substantial rent on its current building.
Four construction firms are finalists for the job after submitting proposals over the summer. The City Commission is scheduled to choose one of them on Aug. 29. As city leaders prepare for that decision, here are six things to know about the new building:
▪ Response times and service: City officials believe the new location, at the intersection of Salzedo Street and Alcazar Avenue, will improve police and fire response times, especially in the northern parts of the city.
▪ What will be in the new HQ: The new building will be about 104,000 square feet, about 40,000 square feet larger than the current public safety building. It will sit on both the city-owned parking Lot 6 and on a privately owned piece of land on Minorca Avenue that the city acquired through a land swap. It will include a 180-car parking garage, office space, more space to train officers and new recruits, rooms for defensive tactic training and technology allowing officers to simulate driving techniques.
▪ Timeline: The city has to move quickly because the land deal requires the police and fire operations to move out of 2801 Salzedo by August 2020. The owner of the Minorca property will then get the Salzedo property. Some cash and impact fee credits are also involved.
▪ Funding: The city will finance the new $34 million building primarily through about $20 million in bonds that will be repaid through property taxes, Miami-Dade County general obligation bond funds, impact fee revenues, revenues from the sale of the current police building and an hourly rate increase in parking rates of about 50 cents. The maximum hourly rate for on-street parking increased to $2 and parking in public garages to $1.50 an hour.
▪ History: The main reason the city is pursuing a new building instead of renovating the current location is because the 44-year-old building has decaying parking bays for fire trucks, might not withstand a hurricane, and repairs would likely cost more than the city is spending to relocate.
▪ Next steps: A city evaluation committee is going to hear from the four finalists—Munilla Construction Management, Turner Construction, Pirtle Construction and the Weitz Company— at 9 a.m. Aug. 18 at 2800 SW 72nd Ave. The City Commission is set to select one of the firms at the Aug. 29 meeting at City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way.