Land Sale could Fund New Police HQ in Tampa

by Michael Abdoney - 03/05/2021 -Tampa

Plans are underway to relocate the new police base and various other city services to East Tampa. The new location is expected to be a piece of land that is currently home to a neglected warehouse. This would be crucial in opening up important areas in the real estate of West Tampa which will be of very high value.

The project, estimated to be worth around $100 million, was first presented to members of the council on Thursday. It visualizes hosting around 500 city employees in energy-friendly premises in what would be key in reviving straining neighborhoods.The plan comprises selling the land on 4010 W. Spruce St. in which services like Fleet Management and Solid Waste are located. The present police head office at 411 N. Franklin St. would also be sold. According to the city financial officer, selling these assets would generate millions which would be used to fund the project.

John Benett, the Mayor’s Chief of staff has been optimistic with the proposal saying that it is well in line with the strategic ambitions of the city. In part, it is because the rental contract of some of the premises hosting city staff will be due in a couple of years, and therefore action to be taken promptly. The first section of the proposal is expected to be set by March 2023.

Benett said that the administration wants to act swiftly implementing the project. This was in response to queries by members of the council as to why they were told about the project just recently. The council members said that they should have been given enough time to analyze the proposal, seeing that it is a very intense one.A motion by one Mr. John Dingfelder sought to push forward the vote for the initial capital of $6.2 million till their next gathering slated for March 18. The earliest phase of the plan will include the construction of a three-story premise for hosting city services. A new police headquarters would also be constructed close by. Since the CSX rail line cuts through the property, it could be utilized for light rail in the coming days.

Maintenance costs including roof maintenance at the police headquarters in downtown would also be slashed, saving the city almost $35 million. Constructing a health facility would also save up to $15,000 monthly because it will remove the expenses of the monthly rent presently being paid at two different places.

Bonds might be used to cater for some of the expenses, but the city would prefer grants, given that the emergency services will also be located there. Additionally, selling the Spruce and the Big Blue property would also pay for a large portion. Members of the council applauded the capability of the project with Chairman Guido Maniscalco excited that selling the land in West Tampa and downtown would get a lot of money as it is "hot real estate."

However, East Tampa representative Gudes expressed his worries about residents being forced to relocate because of the developments. Eventually, the members of the council agreed to delay the vote so that the administration would address the public’s concerns first.

Bennett agreed that the council’s cooperation is crucial in ensuring the project is carried out transparently and supported by everybody.