12390457461?profile=RESIZE_710xBy Anne Geggis

The latest Delray Beach police station plan receiving City Commission support would have it expand at its current site and possibly have a fire-rescue station move there.

The new plan is a switch from previous discussions about moving the police station farther west on Atlantic Avenue from its current home in the 300 block on the street’s south side.

It would reconfigure the station there so it can grow another 110,000 square feet.

Fire Station No. 111, just over a block to the west of the police station on Atlantic’s north side, could then potentially be in the same lot as the police.

“The big surprise is being able to put this all in one complex,” Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston said at the commission’s Feb. 6 workshop.

Ultimately, the vision is to concentrate government facilities in one place while reducing impediments to new retail and residential projects along the portion of Atlantic Avenue needing redevelopment to the west.

“The bottom line is that at this high level, (there’s) plenty of room for both of these facilities on this site,” said Jess Sowards, the architect hired by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency to develop a plan to expand the police station.

City police need a station with 150,000 square feet — its current 40,000-square-foot space has grown too tight, according to a needs assessment done years ago.

The new police station would be three stories with parking below ground, according to the concept presented to commissioners.

Sowards said the fire station could be three stories, too, with enough space to accommodate five fire truck bays and an emergency operations center. But the fire station idea is less flushed out than plans for the police station and no funding has been designated for it.

Voters approved a $100 million bond last year for the police station work and other public safety needs, including possible fire-rescue projects.

Commissioners have agreed to proceed with the dual-use police and fire-rescue concept. They also like the idea that the redo provides a chance to activate a new section of West Atlantic Avenue.

“We have dead spaces up and down Atlantic Avenue, west of Swinton,” said Mayor Shelly Petrolia. “We’ve got the library, the courthouse, police, fire. What we wanted to do is to not have as many governmental properties fronting Atlantic so that we can have some passing traffic to draw people down toward West Atlantic.”

The 600, 700 and 800 blocks of West Atlantic, which the CRA owns, could then be dedicated to retail and residential development that could draw more people west. Some parts of the CRA land currently limit activity to a “public purpose,” so the city may face a hurdle if plans for that continue to solidify.

But that did not dampen the commission’s enthusiasm for the idea.

“This is something I could definitely get behind,” the mayor said.

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