The City of Eden Prairie is looking at relocating and expanding its Police Department space, an expensive project that may be affordable because long-term debt for other major projects drops in 2025.
Why it matters: More office space and a garage for dozens of police vehicles now parked outside would help the department handle future needs. It would be a costly undertaking – at least $13 million – but might be financed long-term without a big jump in property taxes.
The likeliest scenario has the police moving within the Eden Prairie City Center at 8080 Mitchell Road, where the department is located. Now using about 36,700 total square feet in the lower level of city hall’s east side, the police would move to more than 73,000 square feet of remodeled space on both levels of the building’s west side. Most of the additional space would be 24,600 square feet needed for indoor parking on the lower level.
The city-owned building’s west side is largely empty, with two rent-paying tenants having moved out: United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) and the Eden Prairie Schools.
No final decision on the project has been made. It was the topic of an Eden Prairie City Council workshop Tuesday, March 21, before the council’s regular meeting. Formal votes would be needed before moving ahead with design and construction.
Here are a few things the city council will consider:
- The Police Department has been located in the Eden Prairie City Center since 1993, when the city purchased the former CPT Corp. headquarters for use as city hall.
- There are about twice as many police officers today as there were 30 years ago, and the fleet of police vehicles has grown to 53.
- Expansion of police quarters has been part of the city’s long-range capital improvement plan for at least six years, according to City Manager Rick Getschow.
- The city has always had tenants in its building. If the Police Department were to move, its current space would likely be made available to a rent-paying tenant or tenants.
- One of the council’s current priorities is public-safety support and investment.
Tuesday’s discussion followed a study of options by Wold Architects and Engineers, which has its national office in St. Paul.
The city’s annual property tax levy to pay off debt has been mostly level for nearly a decade, Getschow said. The $13 million estimated for the police project is close but not quite equal to the amount of debt being retired in 2025, so it could potentially cause a 1% increase in the debt levy. City officials said it’s possible that state or federal grants could cushion the project’s impact.
Optional add-ons that would increase the project to $15-$17 million – such as a small addition for special-response equipment and training, and electric-vehicle charging stations in the lower-level garage – would create a bigger effect on the debt levy.
Long-term debt is commonly used by cities and other local governments to finance large capital assets such as infrastructure, buildings, and big pieces of equipment, including fire trucks. By spreading out the debt payments over numerous years, they level their expenses for a more predictable cash flow. Local governments most frequently pay off the debt with property taxes, but can also do so with special assessments or user fees.
Go deeper: More information about the Eden Prairie Police Department and its role is on the city’s website. Because the city is actively marketing its leasable space, you can also see floor plans and other details about the building.
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