Business Times of Edmond, Oklahoma March 2020 - Page 16

Consolidation of City Offices, Potentially with Public-Private, Partnership Studied BY VAN MITCHELL | PHOTOS BY KAREN MOORE T he demolition of the former Edmond Police station, located at 23 E. First Street, has left the city with an opportunity to consolidate most of its departments under one roof through a public/ private partnership. “The new Public Safety Center has been open for a few years now,” said Casey Moore, public information officer for the City of Edmond. “What we have been doing is trying to determine how we move forward facilities-wise as a city.” Moore said the city looked at repurposing the old police station building, but ultimately decided it could not. Local architect Thomas Small was asked in 2013 to provide a preliminary feasibility study for building a new Edmond administration building to consolidate four offices currently existing in four separate buildings where Edmond residents and visitors now go for services. “We worked with an architect a few years back to look at our space needs,” Moore said. “At that time it was determined we might consolidate all of our city offices into one municipal building on that.” Small’s updated feasibility study incorporates design elements specific to the City of Edmond. Its design perimeters are based on the Public Safety Center. These goals remain relevant as the city envisions the future, Moore said. If eventually built administrative offices which were disbursed to non city-owned rental properties during the construction of the Public Safety Center would return to the site. Moore said the city is looking at the vacant space in a two-pronged approached. The first is utilizing it as a public space. “We are making it a temporary public space,” he said. “We are going to put some elements out there so people can sit and relax. Our goal is to have that space open and usable to the public in March.” City officials Casey Moore, public information officer, and Councilman Josh Moore stand in the old police station location in downtown Edmond. 16 March 2020 | The Business Times Moore said the city is looking into a possible public/private partnership for a new municipal building. “We are working on a Request for Qualifications or RFQ from developers to look at all of our city-owned properties in this downtown corridor with the idea of partnering with a public-private partnership with a developer,” he said. “It might allow for an advantageous relationship to build a new municipal building on that lot. There is the potential that we could work with a private developer in a partnership as far as building that facility and redeveloping the other properties we own along the Littler Street corridor.” Moore said the city partnering with a private investor would allow for the utilization of a federal Opportunity Zone, of which the property lies within. The city has about five acres downtown they are looking at for proposals. Opportunity Zones were established by Congress in 2017 to encourage long-term investment. Investors may reinvest their capital gains in census areas in order to defer taxes to pay lower capital gains, and in some cases zero capital gains on the appreciation if the property is sold within 10 years. The designated Opportunity Zone in Edmond extends north of the railroad tracks at Second Street to Edwards Street. It goes east to Ayers then follows University Drive and east to Bryant.  “That is part of the advantage of working with a private developer because there is potentially some tax advantages for them right now because of the Opportunity Zone,” Moore said. “That is a little bit of what is driving the public/private partnership being a good option.” Moore said if a new municipal building is built, the city can then consolidate its offices in one location.  “We are really spread out along quite a few buildings and we would like to be able to consolidate everyone into once place to make things easier for our residents,” he said.