Durham News

New Durham police headquarters could top $80M

The Carpenter Chevrolet building as it looks today, 92 years and several remodelings after it was built in 1923. Preservation Durham listed it among its ‘Places in Peril’ in 2013, after the city announced it was considering its site for a new police headquarters. Preservation Durham
The Carpenter Chevrolet building as it looks today, 92 years and several remodelings after it was built in 1923. Preservation Durham listed it among its ‘Places in Peril’ in 2013, after the city announced it was considering its site for a new police headquarters. Preservation Durham FILE N&O PHOTO

If you’re interested in the design of a new police headquarters building and the impact it will have on the East Main Street corridor, you have through Sept. 8 to lobby the City Council on your preferences.

If you’re hoping the city will save the 1928 Carpenter Chevrolet building and incorporate it into the design, however, you’ll have to lobby hard. That option adds $3.9 million to a project that will now come in millions of dollars over its initial $62.4 million budget.

At the City Council’s Thursday work session, architectural consultant firm O’Brien/Atkins presented five options for arranging the headquarters, surface parking and a parking deck on the 4.5 acre block at 600 E. Main St. The area sits between Main and Ramseur streets, with South Elizabeth Street on the west and Hood Street on the east.

The options follow a June presentation in which the council sent the firm back to the drawing board after objections to the amount of space taken up by the police buildings and the 85-space surface parking lot.

Residents and council members have said the new building should contribute to livening up the corridor that connects downtown with the distressed East Durham area by presenting a pedestrian-friendly face to Main Street.

The new options come after O’Brien/Atkins representatives met with community groups, including Downtown Durham, Inc., Durham Area Designers and Preservation Durham. They also met with organizations that will use the building, including the Police Department and the Emergency Communications Center.

The new proposal includes a parking deck with 486 spaces and 72 surface parking spaces for visitors.

The five options include two that incorporate the Carpenter building. The option that incorporates most of the community requests, except for the Carpenter building, includes surface parking on Elizabeth Street, along with two-level buildings that cover a triangle of land between Elizabeth and Hood streets.

Two of the proposals leave that triangular area open for private development.

City Council members indicated they plan to discuss the options and moving forward at their Sept. 8 meeting, which falls on a Tuesday night due to the Labor Day holiday.

Initially the project, which would be completed in early 2018 under the current time line, was expected to cost $62.4 million. But on Thursday council members learned that a recent review of the project’s needs and costs resulted in an increase of $18.5 million and a new price tag of $80.9 million. That doesn’t include the $3.9 million to save and incorporate the Carpenter building.

That increase could be mitigated by $9.6 million in savings from not incorporating some of the planned police department programs into the building, such as community services, property and evidence and domestic violence, said Jina Propst, assistant director General Services Department.

Council members asked architects whether the Carpenter building was a key historical building. They responded that it hasn’t been designated as such and doesn’t define the architecture for a time period in that part of town.

“It’s not an architectural jewel,” said architect Kevin Montgomery.

Council members Cora Cole-McFadden and Eddie Davis said they were leaning toward not keeping it. Member Diane Catotti said she isn’t “sold” on keeping it either.

Since Mayor Bill Bell and Eugene Brown weren’t at the meeting, council members decided to postpone making a decision until Sept. 8. They said they would seek feedback before and at the meeting.

“We all know we are going to get lobbied hard,” Catotti said.

In other business

Also Thursday, Councilman Steve Schewel asked the council to set a time to consider a proposal by Durham CAN to seek federal tax credits to build an affordable housing complex on a vacant lot next to Durham Station Transportation Center, which is a city and regional bus hub that has plans for a future light rail station.

At the Sept. 10 work session, City Manager Tom Bonfield will present options for the disposition of the property and steps the city would have to take if it wanted to move forward with the proposal to seek 2016 Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, the federal government’s primary program for encouraging private investment in the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

See the plan

View the presentation on the new Police Department headquarters complex and the five proposed options here: http://bit.ly/dpdplan.

The City Council plans to make a decision on how to move forward with the complex at its 7 p.m., Sept. 8 meeting in Council Chambers, on the first floor of City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza.

  Comments