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Downtown Commission hears plans for APD headquarters relocation

Monday, March 22, 2021 by Seth Smalley

Alex Gale from the city’s Office of Real Estate Services and Darrell Alexander from the Building Services Department spoke to the Downtown Commission Wednesday on the relocation of the Austin Police Department headquarters.

Gale explained that Council had given direction to the city manager to search for a suitable space – potentially an existing, underused space – to relocate APD headquarters.

According to Gale, Real Estate Services intends to approach the relocation effort as it would any new administrative or special use space for a department. Right now, staffers are gearing up to do a scoping session with a development consultant to determine APD’s needs for the department. Gale expects the scoping sessions to be finished by May.

“We think that’s about a four- to six-month effort to really dig into what APD requirements are. And also taking into consideration what the reimagining of APD is, what all those different, new things that APD will be doing and maybe some of the things they may no longer be doing,” Gale said.

Following the request for approval process, there will be an additional follow-up with City Council regarding funding for the development and approval for any potential real estate transactions.

“That would then start a two- to three-year process to essentially either develop a new building or significantly renovate an existing city facility or tract of land,” Gale said.

Real Estate Services anticipates additional funds will be necessary for each step of the process.

Commissioner David Gomez asked about the potential size of the new property. “There was a question about number of people you have to build it for, compared to how many people are in the present building. That would determine the size of the property you would need. Has that been decided yet?”

Gale affirmed that a decision about size had not yet been determined.

Simultaneously, a separate conversation will be taking place about how to reuse the current APD site at Eighth Street and Interstate 35. That conversation will largely be driven by the mayor and City Council.

Gomez raised the possibility of using the current APD space as housing for those experiencing homelessness.

“I have heard the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless was built with (Community Development Block Grant) dollars, but it has been paid off. So is there a possibility of trading the two buildings, and having the ARCH building be raised to the specs you need for the police department and increasing the possibility for things at the present headquarters for shelter and affordable housing?”

While Gale said there had been no discussion on the topic so far, Real Estate Services would take the idea into consideration.

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