Orlando begins discussions on replacing police headquarters



ORLANDO, Fla. - It's been 40 years since Orlando police headquarters went up in downtown Orlando.

Now city officials say its days may be numbered.

Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney said the building isn't cutting it anymore and that it has to go.

"We believe the Orlando Police Department has outlived its life expectancy," said Rooney. "It's got some major issues."

On Monday city leaders introduced the idea of building a new $40 million police headquarters and selling the old property to the Orlando Magic, who play in the nearby Amway Center.

A Magic representative said the organization is interested in tearing the police department building down and using the property as part of its planned $100 million entertainment complex.

"The arena, Amway, has a very large presence, and this building now seems out of place," said resident Jen Jones, referring to the police building.

Rooney said the building is out-of-date and needs huge improvements.

An unused jail takes up three entire floors of the facility.

Rooney also said the building is "too big" for the current police force.

He said it was built as a fortress so it isn't easily accessible to the public.

"You have got to think about taxpayers -- where the money going to come from?" said resident Wesley Williams

The city said the money would come, in part, from the sale of the building.

Leaders also proposed revamping almost 100 city buildings with more energy-efficient features.

The money saved in those efforts would offset the costs, they said.

Mayor Buddy Dyer insisted that this was just the beginning of conversations about the property.

He said there are still a number of details to work out, including where a new headquarters would be built, before a new police headquarters becomes a reality.

Late Monday evening the Orlando Magic responded to WFTV's Kenneth Craig with this email:

"We are currently finalizing our feasibility study examining a potential sports and entertainment complex adjacent to the Amway Center.

"As we finalize our due diligence, we are interested in the city's apparent decision to relocate the current police station, currently adjacent to the land where we have an option to purchase this potential development.

"Our studies show that the potential property on which the police station is currently located could make the project ultimately feasible. We look forward to responding to the city's potential request for purchase of that additional piece of land, should it become available.

"This potential project represents a possible $100 million investment by the Magic and its partners that would create jobs, and provide the possibilities of dining, hotel and entertainment options and continue the revitalization of Downtown Orlando and the Parramore neighborhood"

- Alex Martins, Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer