BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – The St. Petersburg Police Department revealed its long-awaited new facility, located at 1304 First Ave. N, on March 22.
The building’s testament to modern vision is heralded by the enormous metal, flower-like sculpture “Gladiolus” by Mark Aeling, standing as a kind of sentinel on the corner of the building’s plaza entrance (his sculpture “Shielded” floats above one’s head up entering into the grand vestibule).
The behemoth 168,000-square-foot facility will serve as the new headquarters for St. Pete’s entire 800-member staff of civilians, police and volunteers – and it was clearly designed with the city’s growing population in mind.
The sprawling 6.3-acre project includes two buildings, a parking garage and a central energy plant, 12,000 square-feet of evidence storage and refrigerated space for DNA samples and a solar-powered roof that will be able to run the parking garage systems and a third of the building space.
With cutting-edge technology to rival any police department in the country today, it was also built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane of up to 195 mph winds and will serve as the emergency operations center for the city, as well as the data back-up site for Pinellas County Emergency Operations.
The structure was designed by Harvard Jolly Architecture, a long-standing designer of public safety, school, healthcare, and library properties, in partnership with engineering firm AECOM and Ajax Building Corporation. The facility’s estimated cost is $78.5 million and was mostly paid for by Penny for Pinellas funds.
St. Petersburg’s Mayor Rick Kriseman and City Council members were on-hand along with Police Chief Anthony Holloway, Asst. Chief Mike Kovacsev, Harvard Jolly’s president Ward Friszolowski and the project’s lead architect Emmet Van Aken to celebrate the property’s formal ribbon-cutting and unveiling.
“It’s a very exciting day for us; it feels like getting the keys to a new home,” shared Chief Holloway. “We’re very, very proud of this building.”
He said his favorite part of the structure is the landscaped reflection area created as a memorial to St. Pete police officers whose lives were lost in the line of duty.
Mayor Kriseman shared his belief that “We have the best police department in the state of Florida if not the country – but certainly the place that they were working in wasn’t. It’s hard to do your job when you’re working in substandard facilities, and you don’t have all the tools at your disposal to do your job – and now they will.”
Highlighting the event was a display by three members of the US Special Operation Command Parachute Team, the Para-Commandos–who sky-dived from helicopters holding flags to be raised on the building by the St. Petersburg Police Honor Guard.
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