Puyallup Herald

Nine-figure price tag estimated for Puyallup’s combined court, jail and police facility

Puyallup planning $100 million “Puyallup Justice Center”

The city of Puyallup is discussing plans for a "Justice Center" to replace the current downtown police headquarters. Preliminary plans for the center show a cost of about $100 million.
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The city of Puyallup is discussing plans for a "Justice Center" to replace the current downtown police headquarters. Preliminary plans for the center show a cost of about $100 million.

What would Puyallup’s new public safety building cost?

About $100 million, according to consulting architects working with the city on the project.

Preliminary numbers were shared for the first time at a Puyallup City Council meeting on Feb. 26.

Replacing Puyallup’s aging public safety building has been in the works for several years, along with the intent to pay for the project through a bond measure.

The current plan consolidates the city’s police department, court and jail in one facility at 703 39th Ave. SE. It’s been termed the Puyallup Justice Center.

In rough terms, a 20-year, $100-million bond would cost taxpayers with homes valued at $350,000 about $384 annually, or $32 per month.

For a 30-year bond, that drops to about $302 annually for the average homeowner, or about $25 per month.

For some, the $100 million price tag was staggering.

“This is a big pill,” Councilwoman Cynthia Jacobsen said at the meeting.

Jacobsen took issue with looking at cost after floor-plan designs were created.

“This is what happens when we begin looking at something without looking at it within a budget framework,” she said.

Councilman Jim Kastama suggested the city use focus groups to gauge if a $100 million bond would pass.

“We have to be very cautious at this point whether it would pass if it went to voters,” Kastama said. “Because I think we’re all very much in support of a new public safety building. We realize that it’s come of age where it needs to be replaced.”

Overall, council members support a new public safety building.

The city’s current police department at 311 W. Pioneer Ave. was build in the 1960s and is outdated, said Police Chief Scott Engle.

“We reached a point where our building is holding us back from doing what’s best for our community,” Engle told the council.

JusticeCenter2.jpg
The city of Puyallup’s proposed new public safety building on South Hill would incorporate the police department, municipal courts and jail in one building. City of Puyallup Courtesy

THE FLOOR PLAN

The Puyallup Justice Center was designed with a “50-year look into the future,” Engle said.

The design consists of three floors at more than 112,000 square feet, with room to expand.

Engle and Judge Andrea Beall presented the floor plans on Feb. 26, walking the council through each room.

The basement level features secure underground parking, something both Engle and Beall say the city’s current facilities lack. Staff parking is separate and above ground.

Also on the basement floor: evidence rooms, K-9 storage and a secure area to unload prisoners.

On the first floor: a training room, community room, lockers, fitness space, offices space for chief and deputy chief. The records and criminal investigation unit are also located on the first floor.

On the second floor are two large courtrooms and various office space for courts staff. The space for the courts would jump from 8,300 square feet in the current facility to 22,000 square feet.

The jail is split on the second and third floors and includes 93 jail beds, compared to the city’s current 52-bed jail. Not all of those beds would be used when the facility opens, Engle said.

“As we grow and the city grows, we will need that capacity,” Engle said. “Our plan in the interim for those unused beds is simply a business model — to contract those spaces out to other jurisdictions.”

Council deliberated whether to include a jail in the new safety building or contract with the Pierce County Jail. The county expanded its jail with a $54 million project in 2003 by raising property taxes for county residents, including the Puyallup area, according to past News Tribune articles.

Engle said maintaining a city jail would help hold offenders accountable.

“We believe it’s in the best interest of our community in particular going forward as we look at this building from a 50-year build perspective, to have a jail,” Engle said.

THE TIME LINE

The $100 million cost is not set in stone. The council will discuss in upcoming meetings whether to consider alternative designs to reduce cost.

The current aim is to have a measure on the ballot this November.

If voters approve the bond, the project would spend another 15 months in design before permitting. Construction would take two years, with a hesitant opening date of 2023.

Putting off the project would cost the city thousands per year in escalating construction costs, consultants said.

“It’s only going to get more expensive over time,” Mackenzie Consulting architect Brett Hansen said at the Feb. 26 meeting.

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