BY SUE WEBBER
Until last week, three options were being considered for a future police building in Osseo.
A fourth option was added this week: the building that formerly housed the Main Street Pharmacy on the corner of 1st Avenue and 3rd Street Northeast.
At the Osseo City Council work session Sept. 30, council members spent the first hour touring an existing building at 25 4th Street NW – adjacent to the City Hall parking lot – and then the pharmacy building.
Following the tour, the council returned to City Hall to discuss the pros and cons of the four options, as follows:
• Building a new 6,600 square foot police station on the City Hall parking lot, at an estimated cost of $1.43 million. The construction would be financed by issuing bonds or using cash on hand and would take about 12 months to complete, according to City Administrator Doug Reeder.
• Including a 6,300 square foot Police Department office on the first floor of the second phase of the Five Central apartment building on the corner of Central Avenue and 5th Street NW, at an estimated cost of $1.125 million. The building is directly across the street from the current City Hall and Police Department building.
• Purchasing and remodeling the existing 3,478 square foot building at 25 4th Street NW. The building, constructed in 1976 and remodeled in 2009, originally was a dentists’ office and currently is used for office space for an engineering company. The $1.183 million cost is higher than estimates presented to the city council on Aug. 12, according to a memo from Reeder, because building inspectors have said the building must have sprinklers and an elevator if the basement is used for locker rooms. Those costs could be avoided by putting an addition on the first floor, he said, which would increase the cost of the project and bring it to 6,300 square feet of space.
• The pharmacy building, constructed in 2001, has 10,000 square feet on two floors. It is currently on the market for $499,000. The estimated total cost of $780,000 for the building includes making part of the first floor into a garage, building needed offices, and building locker rooms on the lower level.
“It is probable that the total cost of this option with more space and a newer building will be the lowest cost we have looked at so far,” Reeder’s memo said.
Regarding the engineering office building on City Hall property, Modris Feders, a principal with Buetow 2 Architects, Inc., said, “We would build on the best of what’s there and enhance it.”
He said the building’s roof would need to be replaced in the near future, and the parking lot needs an overlay. If the building were to be used for holding arrestees, it would also need a sprinkler system, he said. An elevator would not be required if the basement was used only for storage.
Feders said the building would give the city an image of an integrated public safety facility. “It would be a very good image for the city, being close to City Hall,” he said.
He estimated that the building could be remodeled in time for the Police Department to occupy it by August 2014. “It would be quicker than doing a new building,” Feders said.
Regarding the pharmacy building, Feders said it would take the same due diligence done on the engineering building to determine the pros and cons.
“It would be a little more of a challenge with the image,” he said. “It’s off the main thoroughfare.”
Councilmember Rick Weber suggested that since the prices on all the options are close, the council might be best served by getting detailed costs on construction of a new facility.
“I would want to know that before I make a decision,” Weber said. “I would like to see the true cost of a new building.”
Randy Engel, principal with Buetow 2 Architects, Inc., estimated that the cost of a new building would be $1.5 million, plus or minus 10 percent.
Mayor Duane Poppe said the pharmacy building and the engineering office building were equal in his mind. “The pharmacy being newer has some benefits,” he said.
Councilmember Mark Schulz noted that going with the option at Five Central would mean that no property would have to be taken off the tax rolls. However, he said he was leaning toward the pharmacy building first, and then the Five Central option.
Weber agreed with that ranking.
“If they’re similar in cost, I am leaning toward new construction and keeping everything on the tax rolls,” Poppe said.
The consensus was that the city should spend $500 to get a feasibility report on the pharmacy building from the architects. That report is expected to be presented to the City Council on Oct. 14.
Reeder said earlier the replacement of the city’s Police Department building was given a high priority on a recent survey of residents.
“The replacement of the current Police building is important because the current facility, which was built as a house, is totally inadequate for a modern police department,” Reeder said, in an Aug. 12 memo to the City Council.
The current Police Department building was constructed in 1930 as a single-family house. The city of Osseo purchased the building for $90,000 in 1996 as a temporary location for its Police Department, Reeder said.
The current Capital Improvement Plan includes $1 million for a police building, he said.