College Hill proposed as option for new District 5 police statio - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

College Hill proposed as option for new District 5 police station
City leaders propose completely renovating the old permit center on Central Parkway for a new District 5 police headquarters. (FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker) City leaders propose completely renovating the old permit center on Central Parkway for a new District 5 police headquarters. (FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker)
Cincinnati Police District 5 headquarters is located on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton (FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker) Cincinnati Police District 5 headquarters is located on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton (FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker)

A shopping plaza in College Hill is being proposed as another possible location for a new District 5 police headquarters. 

College Hill Plaza on 3.85 acres at Hamilton and Cedar avenues has the backing of City Councilman Wendell Young and FOP President Sgt. Dan Hils.

Young is a former Cincinnati police officer, and Hils has spearheaded efforts for a new District 5 station.

Both say they think it's a better option than the city's current plan to completely renovate it's vacant permit center on Central Parkway at a cost of $7 million to $10 million, even if it costs more.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," Young said. "I love it because College Hill people want it there. It would be a real shot in the arm for that business district. It would be a win-win for everybody."

City Council is expected to consider the College Hill option at their 2 p.m. meeting Wednesday.

Specifically, Young submitted communication from the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation directing city administrators to prepare a report about the site, according to a memo from City Manager Harry Black.

The shopping plaza isn't totally empty now, but it's certainly under-utilized, Young said.

"This is an opportunity here to build a new facility," Young said. "Personally, I think we should build a new facility rather than retrofit a police station in an existing building. There is a lot of space, there would be more than ample space for parking and for the police."

Hils said Monday he agrees with Young. 

"It's not centrally located, but it does allow easy access to most of the city's neighborhoods," Hils said. "I guess it sounds better to me than the permit center."

The permit center, Hils said, is "a building that's been abandoned by somebody else. I just don't know how good a building that's going to be."

Ideally, Hils said he would prefer the city acquire property on Spring Grove Avenue and build a new police headquarters there. The road is the most centrally located to serve the district's 9 neighborhoods over 18 miles, he said.

District 5 covers Clifton, University Heights, Fairview/Clifton Heights, College Hill, Camp Washington, Mt. Airy, Northside, Spring Grove Village and Winton Hills. It also includes the University of Cincinnati.

"You can get to all the neighborhoods quickly" from Spring Grove Avenue, said Hils, who worked in District 5 twice: 1989-1990 and again 1996-1997.

The city manager is recommending Council take action in May for a new District 5 police station.

He wants them to earmark up to $10 million in the next budget to completely renovate the permit center. The soonest it would open would be 2019, Black has said.

At 28,000-square feet, the permit center is nearly three times the size of the current District 5 building on Ludlow Avenue.

Council's upcoming 2018 budget has a $25.1 million shortfall - the biggest deficit since the Great Recession.

Cincinnati $25M budget deficit: 'Part of it is a problem that Council did to itself'

College Hill Plaza is located about 3.3 miles north of the existing District 5 building, according to Black's memo.

The current plan to renovate the city's permit center for a new District 5 "remains the most viable and cost effective solution. It is our intent to continue to pursue this option," he wrote.Council.

Council tours proposed site for new District 5 police station

Proposals for a new District 5 police headquarters come after a FOX19 NOW investigation and series of more than 30 stories into health concerns and working conditions at the current location.

Our cameras remain the only ones permitted inside District 5 as the police union leader exposed concerns he said workers there brought to his attention: mold, asbestos, spiders, a bed bug infestation, mice, a leaky roof and cramped quarters.

FOX19 NOW investigates Cincinnati Police District 5

City officials repeatedly have insisted the current District 5 building has no environmental concerns and is no longer idea due to lack of space.

Still, to move some District 5 officers out sooner, Black recently worked out an agreement with police to relocate some this summer.

District 5 police to start moving out this summer

Problems and overcrowding at the existing District 5 building are nothing new. Designed as a park lodge, it opened in the late 1950s and has undergone renovations but still remains too cramped, city officials have said.

Past and present police commanders tried unsuccessfully for years to find ways to build a new headquarters, an effort that got fast-tracked late last year once our cameras went inside to expose conditions there.

Council most recently rejected budgeting $17 million for a new headquarters in 2015.

That's the same year the city's newest police station opened. The 39,000 square-foot, $16 million District 3 is located in Westwood.

It was the first new police station the city built in more than 40 years. It's also a LEED Platinum and Nat Zero Energy facility able to generate as much energy as it consumes.

Districts 5 and 3 are comparable in total square miles covered, Black's memo points out.

A similar building capacity for District 5 of 35,000-to 40,000-square -feet on four acres would be necessary to accommodate personnel, vehicles,and equipment, his memo states.

Currently 134 sworn and three civilian personnel occupy District 5, distributed across several shifts. They use about 50 city vehicles.

College Hill Plaza, which encompasses three addresses, was last sold in 2013 for $2,055,000, Black's memo states. Ownership was transferred to an LLC in 2015.

"The total acreage listed is potentially inadequate if a newly built headquarters is to utilize a similar plan to District 3 and may require the
additional purchase of adjacent property," Black wrote to Council.

"Multiple structures currently located on the property would need to be demolished to make room for new construction.

"Each of these factors is likely to increase the cost and projected timeline to move officers out of the current District 5 station and into a new

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