Gilroy’s new, nearly 49,000-square-foot police station to house
10 jail cells, parking garage and community meeting room
Gilroy – The 48,900-square-foot fortress dwarfs the other buildings in the city campus. The clocktower rises 75-feet above the ground, making Assistant Police Chief Lanny Brown look up in awe.
Since day one, construction of the new Gilroy Police Department has been watched online by community members via a Webcam at the city’s homepage. What began as a pile of cinder and sand almost a year ago, has grown so big that city officials are now considering using a wide-angle lens to capture the progress.
Tiny patches of light poke through holes in the air shafts overhead. Exposed steel beams reveal the strength of the structure, supporting tons upon tons of cement flooring. Strips of blue sky are visible through the central elevator shaft from the first floor parking garage. Walking through the unfinished police station is like walking inside a giant modern art project.
“So far, so good. We’re not over budget,” Brown said, who serves as co-construction manager for the project.
Cost estimates place the mission-style complex at just over $26 million – more than $1.5 million under budget. However, due to an unusually wet winter, construction delays pushed the completion date from January 2006 to the end of March.
Brown believes the earliest move-in date will be June, giving each department time to work out any kinks that may arise.
“It looks an awful lot like a fortress,” Brown said, adding that he hopes trees out front will help soften the station’s image. “We wanted it to be inviting and a drawpoint for the public. Typically it creates anxiety to have to visit the police station for any reason.”
Funding for the project came largely through money the city generated from developmental impact fees.
“The whole idea is to get the most value for the dollar,” Brown said. “Because if there’s any given, it’s just that (construction costs) are going to be more expensive.”
Although city planning requires a 20-year cushion, the new police station should service Gilroy for three decades, Brown said.
The new complex located at Hanna and Seventh streets is built on 1.9 acres and houses 10 jail cells, six more than the current station, which was built in 1965 – and is three times the size. The lower level has a parking garage designed with about 100 spaces.
Walking into the lobby, to the left is a 1,536-square-foot community meeting room, an amenity the current station lacks.
“Because so much government money went into it, we wanted to include something that’s not just for police, but for the community,” Brown said.
One of the reasons the new station is so expensive is due to city facility code standards, Brown said.
“If we get the big earthquake and all the houses around us were shaken to the ground, we would still be able to coordinate efforts from inside,” he said.
The fate of the old station remains unknown, though most of the furniture will likely be left for the next city facility that occupies it.
The old jail cells might be used for storing city records, Brown said. He envisions tall library ladders and documents stacked to the ceiling, instead of the lone toilet and paper roll that currently occupy the space.
But that is all in the future. Brown is currently focused on what needs to be done to prepare the new station for move-in. He hopes to get the building weather sealed by the rainy season begins.
“Once we get the roof poured we’ll be in real good shape,” he said.
It will be likely late next week or the week after, Brown said.
“I’m real pleased with what we’re pulling together,” he said.