Englewood City Manager Eric Keck and Mayor Joe Jefferson expect extensive discussions over the future of the safety services building and the civic center as the new year gets underway.
All parties agree Englewood's safety services building …
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All parties agree Englewood's safety services building should be replaced, but the 2016 budget doesn't include the $15 million to $20 million needed to pay for the project.
“The building was constructed using California design of uninsulated block in the 1970s,” Keck said during a recent interview. “It is a challenge to heat and cool, plus it is too small for our needs. For example, a large closet has become a very small locker room for the female police officers."
Jefferson agreed replacing the safety services building needs to be a priority.
“This new council needs to begin to have conversations about how to resolve this issue,” he said. “...we need to start thinking about what is the funding mechanism to put in place to make the building replacement happen.”
But Jefferson said the good news is the city can prioritize capital improvements to help manage future projects.
The mayor and city manager also talked about the future of the Englewood City Center.
The building at 1000 Englewood Parkway and part of the parking garage were the only structures retained when the Cinderella City Shopping Mall was leveled 16 years ago to make way for Englewood Civic Center.
“The project transformed a department store building into our city center,” Keck said. “The city pays about $1.2 million a year to lease the 138,000-square-foot building for about 100 city employees.”
The city center is owned by the Englewood Environmental Foundation, an entity created by the city to deal with ownership and leases of city-owned property in the city center, including the civic center.
The majority of the city center space is occupied by the library on the first floor. Courts and the Museum of Outdoor Arts occupy the second floor. City offices are on the third floor, which also has a lot of empty space, Keck said.
Keck has asked for a feasibility study about the future of the building. He said a consultantin the business estimate the purchase price could be about $18 million. But he noted the city's certificates of participation used to renovate the building still have about an $11 million balance.
The question is whether the private sector could come in and redevelop the building in a manner to create more energy and attract more people to the center.
Jefferson said he was open to exploring the future of the site, whether it would be best to redevelop the building or retain it as Englewood's civic center.
“I would have preferred that the action to decide to initiate a feasibility study about the civic center would have been a city council decision because I think there should have been a lot more public discussion before making this move,” he said. “But I think we can put this matter on ice a bit so the council can have a discussion of the issue.”
He said he believes it will be a long-term process because, even if a sale were to happen quickly, there would probably be a lease agreement so city operations could continue until a new location was found.
“Cinderella City used to be the city's golden goose because the stores in the shopping center were a huge source of sales tax revenues for many years,” Jefferson said. “That golden goose is gone and now we have a really nice civic center. While it is a city expense, it is a very nice building adjacent to a light rail station, so it could be an attractive redevelopment project in the future.”
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