Coral Gables

City eyes new home for police and fire department headquarters

The current Coral Gables police headquarters and public safety building at 2801 Salzedo St.
The current Coral Gables police headquarters and public safety building at 2801 Salzedo St.

A new home for the Coral Gables police and fire departments could be coming soon.

The city commission last week gave final approval to land use and zoning changes for the current building, 2801 Salzedo St., and supported a plan to build new headquarters on a nearby parking lot. The city also intends to purchase an adjacent property for a mixed-use parking garage.

“Confronted with the high cost of improvements for 2801 Salzedo, costs in excess of $21 million, the city was forced to look at other options associated with the public safety building,” City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark said.

City staff said that renovating and retrofitting the building, which was built in 1973, would be a tough task, and that it still might not be up to necessary standards. The zoning and land use changes will allow commercial high-rise uses.

The city now plans to move to Lot 6, a city-owned parking lot at the corner of Salzedo Street and Alcazar Avenue. The staff believes that moving operations here will help speed up fire rescue response times in the North Gables area, and the planned public parking garage will help offset parking needs near the downtown area.

“As we go forth with our efforts in the North Gables, and to develop in the North Gables, the likelihood is that there will be some increase in density,” Commissioner Patricia Keon said.

The city is also considering various ways to pay for moving the building and the new construction, which could include an increase in the city’s street-parking and garage-parking rates. The staff has not finalized what that increase will be, but said it would not affect rates in the Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue streetscape construction areas until those projects are finished.

Finance director Diana Gomez said that the parking rate increase is just one of several options the city is considering to pay for the move, as it may also use Miami-Dade County general obligation bond funds, impact fee revenues, revenues from the sale of the current police building or other money.

Development of the new facility is still not set in stone and would likely take about a year to design and about 16 months to build once a formal plan is approved, according to Peter Iglesias, assistant city manager.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3