Greenville Moves Public Safety HQ, Debates Future of City Hall | Greenville Politics

Greenville plans to take possession later this month of a sprawling six-story building off Haywood Road that will become the city’s new public safety campus.

Renovations will begin at the former Fluor Daniel office building on Halton Road after May 21. It will house the police department, the municipal court and the headquarters of the fire department. The police and fire brigade will move as soon as the Internet and computer services are operational on the site.

City officials prioritized finding a centralized location for emergency services and the city court last year after plans to purchase the former Bowater building bordering Falls Park and to convert it into a new town hall failed. As the public safety project progresses, officials consider the future of the current Greenville City Hall on South Main Street, considering whether to renovate it or find a new location.

The Fluor building is in good condition, city officials said, but will require extensive renovations before it’s ready for full operation as the city’s public safety campus. Security, HVAC and elevator upgrades will take place over the next year. Improvements to the ground floor of the buildings will entail major demolitions and construction to make way for the municipal court.

An architect and a contractor will be hired to lead the work within the next 60 days.

Former Bowater Building, planned relocation of City Hall (copy)

Plans to move Greenville City Hall to the old Bowater Building on the outskirts of Falls Park fell through late last year, but Mayor Knox White said he was ready to resume talks with the property owner. Stephanie Mirah/staff

The city bought the property for $18.9 million and set aside $8.2 million for improvements. The approximately $27.1 million comes from capital improvements, the general fund and a $13.5 million obligation.

Mayor Knox White said finding a new home for the Public Safety Department has long been a priority.

“We are very happy to move to more modern and functional facilities,” he said.

The police department shares its current facility, the Law Enforcement Center along East North Street, with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and the county jail. White said the aging facility, built in 1976, has become cramped. The move will provide both the sheriff’s office and the police department with more space.

The municipal court building on North Main Street has survived its use, White said. Built in 1946, the establishment is deteriorating and had to close last summer when pipes burst, spilling sewage into the halls. The move also allows the city to sell the valuable property the courthouse sits on at the corner of North Main and Academy Street.

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City Manager John McDonough said in an email that centralizing police, fire and justice services in one location with ample parking would also be beneficial.

Greenville City Hall (copy)

City Hall in Greenville, South Carolina. Nathaniel Cary/staff

White said many of the issues that necessitated a new public safety campus are also true for City Hall. The 10-story tower was built in 1973 and, according to White, has become cramped and dated.

The city was in negotiations to buy the Bowater building on Camperdown Way, with plans to sell the current town hall, for six months last year before the deal fell through. The city then pivoted to purchase the Fluor building to house the police, fire department, and court services.

City officials said they are now considering renovating the current city hall or moving to another downtown building. Given the age of the current tower and the logistics of working in a building during renovations, White said he would prefer to move City Hall to a new location. He also hopes to reopen the conversation about the Bowater building.

“From my perspective, I think City Hall belongs on Main Street,” he said. “The only exception would be if an opportunity arose at the waterfall.”

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Follow Conor Hughes on Twitter at @ConorJHughes.