Building Project to Consolidate Operations and Improve Safety
In response to the ongoing space needs and safety concerns associated with the operation of the Police Division and Mayor’s Court, City Council is giving consideration to a plan to consolidate multiple facilities.
The location for the proposed combined facility is 229 Huber Village Blvd, an existing office building acquired by the City in 2018. When renovated and expanded, the new facility would combine all of the bureaus of the Westerville Division of Police (WPD) including Mayor’s Court, Investigations, and Emergency Communications (9-1-1), currently located at 21, 28 and 29 S. State St., respectively, in Uptown Westerville.
The project addresses long-standing space needs that require multiple buildings and rented storage space, while also improving safety for the public and staff involved in the operation of the Mayors Court in City Hall. Estimated construction costs are approximately $15 million that would be financed through a voter-approved, 20-year bond issue, estimated at less than 1 mill.
Westerville voters will decide the issue on November 5, 2019.
Planning for a new Police/Court facility has been underway for nearly a decade. The concept was planned for a number of reasons, including to unite staff and operations working across the City in multiple buildings and to improve safety with a dedicated Mayor's Court space. However, the primary reason a larger facility is needed because WPD has simply outgrown its current 30-year-old building.
Volunteers and visitors frequently tour WPD headquarters and are consistently surprised by how compact the space is, considering the size of the department. The Police/Court Facility has been thoughtfully considered to meet current and future space needs and improve efficiency.
The City of Westerville closed on the purchase of 229 Huber Village Blvd. (the existing office building and land) in August 2018. The existing 28,500 sq. ft. complex will be expanded to make adequate room for all police and Mayor's Court operations.
In the decade of planning before the purchase of the Huber Village Boulevard property, the City hoped to construct a new facility on the property currently holding the Westerville Armory and adjoining parcel, located at 240 S. State St. Despite the City's best efforts, this option never materialized.
With the need for space still pressing, the City looked for alternate sites. With few undeveloped parcels in the four to six acre range available, the City evaluated options for other parcels. In late 2017, the property at 229 Huber Village Blvd. became available.
Located just east of State Street and easily accessible from Huber Village Boulevard, with ample parking, the property provides a convenient point of access and aligns with the City's ongoing commitment to and investment in the southern portion of the City. By reusing an existing commercial building, the purchase allows the City to achieve lower overall development costs by taking advantage of site improvements already borne by the original developer, in addition to the reuse of 28,500 sq. ft. of existing office space.
The City acquired the building and parcel for $1.9 million from its original asking price of more than $2.5 million. Construction costs to retrofit and build onto the facility are estimated at $15 million. The City plans to ask Westerville voters to approve the issuance of $15 million in General Obligation bonds for 20 years to finance the construction.
If approved by voters, the City intends to list three surplus properties for sale to reduce the total number of facilities needed to support City operations.
All Parks and Recreation programming will move to the Westerville Community Center when the facility's expansion project is complete in spring 2020.
28 S. State St.
The former Westerville Post Office serves as the current home to the WPD Investigations Bureau. All staff in this building will relocate to the Police/Court Facility and this property will be sold.
240 S. State St.
This building is known as the "Westerville Armory" and was once home to the Ohio National Guard. It was purchased by the City in 2007 with the possibility of being used to support a future Police/Court Facility. However, the adjacent property needed for such a project has not been available for acquisition. The Armory property will be sold.
64 E. Walnut St.
After the City departments within the building are relocated to the existing WPD facility (29 S. State St., which will be remodeled), the property will be sold.
The growth of WPD alongside Uptown over the past 25 years continues to put pressure on the overall parking availability in the District. Relocating the Police/Court facility to the new site will free up parking spaces in Uptown that are today occupied 24/7 by WPD and Court staff.
While the planned new facility at 229 Huber Village Blvd. is expected to meet the City's needs for several decades to come, there is more capacity at this site than the currently overcrowded Uptown locations can sustain for future growth.
The combined facilities plan ultimately builds one new facility and eliminates three. The consolidation represents a more efficient configuration of space for operations and allows buildings currently housing public services to be converted into private sector uses.