Cleveland’s police headquarters will move from Downtown to a new campus along the under-construction Opportunity Corridor road project in the Kinsman neighborhood.
The Thursday announcement at a city council safety committee meeting offered clarity to the headquarters search for the first time since September 2018, when the city abruptly backed out of plans to use cleveland.com’s building at 1801 Superior Ave.
“It will be the largest project that the city has done in decades,” interim Chief of Staff Sharon Dumas told council.
In earlier headquarters plans, the city tried to work with existing sites, Dumas said. This new site at East 75th Street and Grand Avenue, offers vacant land on which to build, she said.
Since 2017, the city has been planning to vacate the current police headquarters, housed Downtown in the Justice Center. Cuyahoga County is weighing whether to leave the site, too, and build a new jail and courts complex elsewhere.
Dumas said Cleveland officials weren’t going to wait for the county to settle on plans for a new or refurbished Justice Center.
“That conversation is not moving quickly,” she said.
The new police headquarters building, slated for completion in 2023, will consolidate the police force, which currently is split between the Justice Center and an older headquarters on Payne Avenue. The new site will house motorcycles and SWAT vehicles, too, city officials said.
The Opportunity Corridor will connect I-490 with East 105th Street, near the Cleveland Clinic. The city has been buying up land along the planned roadway for years and has owned some parcels on the new headquarters site since the 1990s and earlier, according to property records.
The city wanted at least 10 acres of land, with space to grow in the future, Economic Development Director Dave Ebersole said.
The new campus will offer space for both federal law enforcement and the broader community, said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. Also under consideration is including space for a daycare or preschool class in the building, he said.
“It’s a clean slate,” Williams said. “All the programming that we were requesting and in need of for 1801, we can do that and more.”
Councilman Michael Polensek pressed city leaders to explain more thoroughly why they changed course in the site selection process, pointing out that the Opportunity Corridor location was far from the Downtown business district.
“You’re asking us to take a big bite out of something that we don’t have much to chew on,” Polensek said.
Matt Spronz, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects, said the city considered about 29 different sites, eventually expanding the search beyond Downtown. Officials settled on the East 75th Street site because it offered enough space to accommodate the city’s needs, he said.
Councilman Kerry McCormack urged police to design a building that’s a far cry from the appearance of the Justice Center.
“How do we create a headquarters that screams to the public, ‘You’re welcome here, come on in,’?” McCormack said. “Really, a building that opens up to the community, versus the 70s Brutalism that has done the exact opposite.”