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Newport Beach plans $30.5 million purchase of site for future police headquarters

Plans for a larger, modernized police headquarters are underway in Newport Beach after city leaders recently decided to purchase a property near the airport for what could become the department’s future headquarters in about a decade.

Recently, the City Council agreed to the purchase of the 3.59-acre property on Dove Street for $30.5 million. The property in the 1200 block is contiguous, which is not easy to find in town, city officials said, and will have the space to accommodate a 73,000-square-foot headquarters with a firearms training and shooting center.

“The Newport Beach Police Department’s functions in our city have outgrown the space built for them around 50 years ago,” Councilmember Will O’Neill said. “Finding sufficient land in Newport Beach is an expensive proposition. But with the downturn in office space, the opportunity came at the same time that our city’s financial surplus could afford the property without taking on new debt.

“A future City Council,” he said, “will have the luxury of already-acquired space without service interruption.”

Before the purchase of the Dover Street property, which currently has a six-story building occupied by 21 tenants, is complete, the city has 120 days to review the title and lease agreements and inspect the property. After that, it has 30 days to move forward with the purchase.

The present station near Fashion Island on Santa Barbara Drive is 49,284 square feet, and city officials said it doesn’t meet all the newer required seismic codes for “essential ” buildings, such as police and fire departments and hospitals.

Looking at the department’s headquarters, which share the property with a fire station, city staffers determined while the building could be seismically updated, it would be more cost-effective to replace it.

Additionally, the department’s staffers and dispatchers and helicopter pad would have to be moved elsewhere during the work.

To pay for the purchase of the new property, the city would take $24.1 million from its budget surplus, $5.5 million from a facilities planning fund and $1.5 million from the general fund’s capital improvements fund. Once purchased, the city would take over management of the present tenant leases, which mostly expire between 2023 and 2028.

According to city officials, the operation of that property, with a hired building manager, could net the city $15 million over 10 years or $25 million over 15 years. That money would likely go back to the general fund.

Building the new headquarters could run around $75 million, Seimone Jurjis, the city’s Community Development director, said.

Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon was the sole vote against the plan to purchase, though he agreed the property’s location is in the correct part of town.

“The timing might not be ideal,” he said, “given the uncertainty surrounding the commercial real estate market.”

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