Coral Gables

A new home for Coral Gables cops and firefighters is on the way

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.

After a few years of discussion and planning, the plans for a new Coral Gables police headquarters have been officially approved and the city has about three years to move into the new building.

The timeline is part of a new deal that received final approval Tuesday by the City Commission. The city will build a new headquarters for police, fire and other city departments and a 160-car public parking garage on two parcels at or near the intersection of Salzedo Street and Alcazar Avenue. Part of the building will be on the city-owned parking Lot 6 and the rest will sit on a privately owned piece of land on Minorca Avenue that the city is acquiring through the agreement.

The owner of the Minorca property, C/LeJeune, LLC, will get the land where the police department stands, but the city departments will continue to occupy the building until the new headquarters is built. It is set for completion by 2020.

As part of the agreement, if the city remains at the current headquarters — 2801 Salzedo St. — beyond 2020, it will pay about $166,000 a month rent until the new police headquarters is finished. The deal also requires C/LeJeune to develop the site as a mixed-use building, a residential development or an office building.

“All of this has to fit very tightly, very deliberately,” City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark said.

Commissioners also approved a $2.7 million contract with AECOM to design the new building. Staff estimates that the project will take about 10 months to design and 20 months to build.

City staff and commissioners believe that the move is a more effective option than trying to renovate and retrofit the headquarters at 2801 Salzedo St., which was built in 1973 and is about 63,000 square feet. In a 2014 study, Stantec Consulting Services reported that the building had multiple cracks and leaks, that it might not hold up in a hurricane and that the bays meant to hold fire trucks were not fit to hold them anymore.

The upgrades were estimated to cost more than $20 million and would still not address some of the building’s structural issues. Through the agreement the city will receive $5.2 million, as the Salzedo site is larger than the property at 250 Minorca Ave. C/LeJeune will receive $2 million in impact fee credits.

The public parking garage will also have office or retail space. City leaders plan to determine whether the new police headquarters will house Coral Gables TV and the parking, human resources and information technology departments — all currently housed in the police building.

The city is expected to issue about $20 million in bonds to pay for the new public safety building.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3