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Former Social Security Building is lowest-costing option in city - abc27 WHTM

Former Social Security Building is lowest-costing option in city analysis

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The Mayor's Office in the City of Birmingham has released an independent evaluation of sites for a new public safety headquarters.

For months, city leaders have discussed possible options. ABC 33/40 has obtained a copy of the 76-page report.

In a memo to Mayor William Bell dated March 24, the city's Planning, Engineering and Permits Director Andre Bittas says he conducted the evaluation with the help of CMH Architects to "determine the cost of relocating the Police Department Headquarters, Fire Department Administration and other related operation to a new Public Safety Operations Center."

The research puts the total number of required square footage for the headquarters at more than 264,000 square feet.

Bittas says based on public safety's operational needs, space and requirements, the total project cost, including the land purchase, is as follows:

The former AmSouth Operations Center at 670 39th Street North at $62,574,754.
The old Carraway Hospital Campus at $64, 893, 920.

Bittas says the review also found the Haney Company's projections of more than 250,000 square feet of space inside the former Social Security building to be "in line with industry standards." 

Owner Franklin Haney told ABC 33/40 that part of the former Social Security Building would cost roughly $50 million to buy (includes nearly $10 million for improvements to the space) or $139 million over a 30-year lease.

If the City chooses to buy any of the options, according to this report, the former Social Security building would cost the least.

The following are some of the pros and cons of each option listed by Police Chief A.C. Roper and Fire Chief Ivor Brooks, in an evaluation sent to Mayor Bell on March 21.

Former Social Security Building
PROS
available square footage and easily meets current and future needs
ample parking
positive location in city center
CONS
older facility
variables in lease costs 
would not be totally owned by the City of Birmingham

Former AmSouth Building
PROS
Facility would be owned by City of Birmingham
Current design has open floor space which lends itself to easy renovation
enclosed campus-type footprint for security
CONS
older facility
square footage not adequate for both BPD and BFD
location is not central

Old Carraway Hospital
PROS
square footage appears adequate for BPD and BFD
Facility would be owned by City of Birmingham
Facility is centrally located
CONS
older facility
repurposing hospitals is difficult due to specialized construction code
most floors do not have open space allowing for easy renovation

Stay with ABC 33/40 for more on this developing story.

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