The City of Philadelphia is planning to build a new headquarters for the 22nd District Police Department, which is currently located on 17th Street near Montgomery.
The Department of Public Property expects the new headquarters, which will be on Diamond Street near 22nd, to be built and available for police use by 2021, said Mike Dunn, a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney.
The city decided not to renovate the 22nd District’s current headquarters on 17th Street, and has not yet determined what the building will be used for after the new one is complete, Dunn said.
“Renovating an existing operational district would take significantly longer, increase cost, increase risk and create more disruption to the community,” he added.
In 2018, the city purchased about 50 properties near 21st and 22nd streets for the building site, the Inquirer reported, and allocated $21.2 million for police district projects in July 2018.
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority condemned the properties on Diamond Street, said Jamila Davis, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Planning and Development, allowing the city to acquire it. The lots consist of mostly green, vacant space, but are on land listed as historic on the Philadelphia Register.
Dunn said the new headquarters can impact the community in a positive way, increasing overall public safety and reducing crime in North Philadelphia.
“All of the property selected is vacant, so by selecting this location, it removes a blighting influence on the community,” Dunn said. “We’re confident the final project will be something the residents are proud of.”
“The existing building no longer fits the special needs of the district; the building systems are past their useful life,” he added. “It is crucial that we give the 22nd police district a modern facility to ensure the public safety needs of the community.”
Priscilla Tee Bennett, president of the St. Elizabeth’s Registered Community Organization on North 23rd Street near Berks, said she supports the 22nd headquarters’ relocation, about two blocks away from the RCO.
“With our officers down the street, it will deter crime in the area and build better relationships with our officers,” Bennett said. “The community will see them as friends and not as someone who will arrest one of their loved ones.”
The Philadelphia Zoning Code ensures the right for surrounding communities to have a say on the city’s plan and review the impacts it could have. The RCO is reviewing the plan as one of its community outreach objectives and will hold a meeting in the spring to receive input and expectations from community members, Bennett said.
Under the city’s historic preservation ordinance, a property owner is required to seek approval from the historical commission for any work that would alter the building’s appearance, if the property is a registered historic place.
The city has not yet submitted development plans for the project, wrote John Farnham, the Historical Commission’s executive director, in an email to The Temple News.
Farnham declined to comment pending the city’s plan submission.