TAMPA, Fla. — A prime piece of downtown real estate may soon hit the market, forcing Tampa police officers to relocate.
The distinct blue building, located at 411 N. Franklin St., has been home to the Tampa Police Department for more than two decades.
City of Tampa officials say the building is past its prime and in need of $35 million in repairs.
“That building is in need of such repairs that the millions of dollars that it would cost to repair it, it’s not economically feasible,” said Sal Ruggiero, Deputy Administrator of Infrastructure Services. “It’s better to go to a new structure.”
On Thursday, city officials unveiled an ambitious proposal to move TPD’s headquarters to Hanna Avenue in East Tampa.
The city is looking to make a land swap with Hillsborough County to gain control of the existing structure, then demolish it and build a new structure.
The new public safety center would also house Tampa’s Office of Emergency Management.
Next door, at 2515 E. Hanna, the City of Tampa is looking to demolish an empty warehouse and build a “City Center” that would house several departments including Code Enforcement, Economic Development, Minority Business Development, Construction Services, and Workforce Development.
Ruggiero says the proposal would put 500 city workers in East Tampa, creating an economic boom for the area.
“We’re very excited about this project,” said Ruggiero. “It brings government into the neighborhood, which is key for the mayor.”
Building both complexes would cost an estimated $100 million.
ABC Action News reporter Ryan Smith asked council member Bill Carlson if the City of Tampa can afford that price tag.
“On the surface it sounds like it might, but we just need to go through the numbers and be really transparent with the public,” said Carlson.
A large chunk of the cost would come from selling TPD’s property in downtown Tampa and a city-owned 17-acre lot housing Solid Waste and Fleet Management on West Spruce Street.
City officials asked Tampa City Council members for an initial $6.2 million on Thursday to pay for the demolition and design plans for the City Center site.
City council members agreed to hold off on that vote until March 18.
“Why not listen to what the community wants and look at the architectural style of the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Carlson .
Ruggiero says plans are following an “aggressive timeline” that could see demolition by Summer 2021 with potential opening of the new City Center by March 2023.