Construction on a $9.7 million police precinct and municipal service center in north Columbia is set to begin in mid-2018 after Columbia City Council unanimously approved the design plans Monday night.
The facility will be located on the south side of International Drive in the Auburn Hills subdivision. The building itself is estimated to cost $7.3 million, and other services including design and planning bring the total to the $9.7 million.
The project plan was labeled as a “future public safety project” in the 2015 Capital Improvement Sales Tax ballot, according to a staff memo to the council.
On Feb. 1, 2016, the council voted to approve the purchase of 8.55 acres for construction of the facility. It then authorized an agreement with Architects Design Group on March 6 for a site analysis, design services and community outreach. The city also held an interested parties meeting on Oct. 10.
The design plans call for a 21,836 square feet building that includes two floors and a community room that will be available for public use.
The Columbia Police Department, in conjunction with the city’s strategic plan social equity team, will form a committee with members of the community to create policies of use for the facility’s community room.
Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas said he had witnessed the success of a community room similar to the one proposed in the plan while he was touring a precinct in Nashville. He said the staff should work with residents to determine how the space should be managed and used.
"... I encourage you now to have as many conversations as possible to get the best out of that space," Thomas said.
No residents spoke during the public hearing Monday night.
City staff said the facility would be mostly autonomous and that its location will have a positive impact on police response times. Officers who patrol in the north part of the city will be stationed at the north location, rather than the downtown location.
Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp said he likes the public spaces in the design that make the building more accessible than the existing precinct.
"This is great to see this moving forward," Trapp said. "This is really the most ideal location to place a police station."
Supervising editor is Tyler Wornell.