The rumors are true: Philly’s new police headquarters will not be in West Philly, but instead at the old Inquirer building on North Broad in a $290 million deal.
City officials made the announcement today at City Hall, where Anne Fadullon, director of planning and development for the city, said, “As many of you may be aware, when the Kenney administraiton came into office in 2016, one of the first tasks was to look into the police’s move into 4601 Market Street. [...] Through the course of doing due diligence, we landed on 400 N. Broad Street.”
The news comes months after rumors emerged that the police was rethinking its original plan to move into the Provident Mutual Life Insurance building in West Philly from its current headquarters at the “Roundhouse” at 750 Race Street. The move was spearheaded under the former Nutter administration.
When Mayor Jim Kenney took office in January 2016, the historic West Philly building at 4601 Market was already deep into its renovations, as part of the master plan to move the police, the medical examiner's office and morgue, and the Department of Health Laboratory Services to the 15-acre property. By now, $50 million has been spent on the project.
Fadullon said that while she couldn’t speak to the former administration’s reasoning for choosing 4601 Market Street, 400 N. Broad Street was an attractive site for the police due to its size and location. While the West Philly building is quite literally at the foot of the 46th Street Station on the Market-Frankford line, Fadullon argued that 400 N. Broad is accessible via more public transportation modes.
Police commissioner Richard Ross also noted that North Broad provides a more central location for the police force, especially those traveling from Northeast Philly. “There’s no easy way for them to get to 4601 Market,” he said. “Pretty much everyone at 8th and Race is excited.”
Employees will also have access to the parking structure adjacent to 400 N. Broad, which can has 590 spaces. The 4601 Market site did not have “a sufficient amount of parking,” according to officials.
In addition, the 400 N. Broad building offers 100,000 square feet of more space compared to 4601 Market. The additional space will allow the city to put more units than originally planned under one roof, including the 6th and 9th police districts, the fire and police communications department, and additional office space.
“It’s the same cost, but we’re getting more product,” Fadullon said.
The cost of the project is estimated to be $290 million, which includes the lease that it will sign with the building’s current private owner, Bart Blatstein of Tower Investments. The city will lease the building through its renovations, which will allow the developer to make use of historic tax credits. Publicly-owned entities are not allowed to take advantage of these credits, Fadullon noted. It will then purchase the property from Blatstein at a price that is included in the $290 million budget.
While the move is certainly a boon for already-booming North Broad, it’s a bit of a blow for West Philly. But Bridget Greenwald of the Department of Public Property said that private developers have already expressed interest in 4601 Market Street, with ideas of turning the building into residential, commercial, or office space.
The city said it plans to issue an RFQ this summer for 4601 Market, and a bid will be awarded by December 31, 2017.
It also plans to sell three current city-owned facilities, including the Roundhouse, the medical examiner’s office in University City, and the 6th Police District building on 11th and Vine. Greenwald said the revenues generated from these potential sales should make up for the $50 million the city has already sunk into the 4601 Market renovations.
The timeline for the police headquarters move is expected to be more or less the same, with the building ready for occupation in the second quarter of 2020.
- Kenney Administration Reconsidering Police Headquarters Move [Curbed Philly]
- Checking in on the Public Safety Services Campus at 4601 and Market [Curbed Philly]
- Master Plan for Police Headquarters, Morgue Unveiled [Curbed Philly]