The Baltimore Police Department’s central district is planning to move into the Baltimore Sun’s former building in downtown and could open there by July, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said today during a press conference inside the building.
Earlier today, the Board of Estimates approved a three-year lease to rent the nearly 122,000-square-foot property at 401/501 N. Calvert Street. Atapco Properties, the owner of the building, will charge between $1.7 million and $2.6 million per year for rent in addition to other charges.
On top of monthly rent, the city will have to reimburse Atapco for tenant improvements and pay a management fee of 5 percent, which is not to exceed $61,750, according to the Board of Estimates agenda.
The exact costs of renovations is unclear. But as the Baltimore Sun reported, the city’s preliminary 2021 budget plan says BPD will use $1.2 million of asset forfeiture funds to help pay for the move.
During the Board of Estimates meeting, Comptroller Joan Pratt expressed concerns about the cost of the renting the building and said she could not vote in favor of the lease.
But Young, who is also a member of that board, said during his press conference that the benefits of the central district’s future home outweigh the costs.
“The comptroller has her opinion, I have mine,” he said. “We promised our police officers that we were going to get them into buildings that would be conducive to their working environment. In the long run, this building will outweigh any cost that the comptroller is concerned about.”
Young added the city will move various public safety offices out of four buildings that are in “really bad shape” and represent tens of millions dollars in capital liability.
The new location will save the city at least $800,000 in deferred maintenance on buildings over the next four years, Young said in a statement.
Young added during the press conference that the savings from the move could be spent on schools, recreation and business recovery.
The building will house BPD’s central district, fire department medics and other agencies that the city deems appropriate, according to the Board of Estimates’ agenda.
The central district has been working out of BPD’s headquarters on E. Fayette Street since emergency repairs caused its building on E. Baltimore Street to shut down more than a year ago, according to the city’s preliminary 2021 budget plan.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the central district’s E. Baltimore Street location is a poor working environment for personnel there.
“The current central district building has been uninhabitable for over a year due to its dilapidated and deteriorating interior condition,” he said. “Relocating the central district is a critical and long overdue need that is essential to reducing crime.”
Harrison said “maintaining a professional work environment and proper equipment” in the new location will help improve staff’s work performance and morale.
“If we expect professionalism from our officers, we owe them no less than a professional work environment in return and a place where they can now call home,” he said.
The Baltimore Sun Media Group, including the Baltimore Sun and several community newspapers, moved from their former N. Calvert Street building to their current location on E. Cromwell Street in Port Covington in 2018.