New police station: Monroe sees plans for transforming former grocery store

Monroe’s new police station might look like this after renovations are completed on the former IGA grocery on Main Street/Cincinnati-Dayton Road. The department has outgrown it’s current facilities on the lower level of the Monroe City Building. CONTRIBUTED
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Monroe’s new police station might look like this after renovations are completed on the former IGA grocery on Main Street/Cincinnati-Dayton Road. The department has outgrown it’s current facilities on the lower level of the Monroe City Building. CONTRIBUTED

Preliminary plans for transforming a former grocery store into Monroe’s new police station will have plenty of room for the staff as well as the potential to expand in the future.

Monroe City Council members saw a presentation by Mark Shoemaker of Cincinnati-based KZF Design of what the new exterior might look like as well a proposed floor plan for the building located at 601 S. Main St.

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Shoemaker told council they are trying to make look less of an IGA store and had received feedback from police employees, council’s Safety Committee and council members. The preliminary plan has several flexible options including a secure drive-through sallyport by using one of the two retail spaces at the shopping center.

The new sallyport would utilize the retail space Foggyz Vapor Lounge occupies now. City Manager Bill Brock said the business could relocate to another retail space in the strip center. Brock also said the city would have to study if the concrete in that space is thick enough park the new MRAP vehicle for the SWAT team. The vehicle was delivered to the city in the past few weeks.

In addition to the new sallyport, the proposed plans include a new public lobby with a vestibule that leads to a large training room with a kitchenette and adjacent restrooms, a soft interview room, a larger records office and storage area, a self-contained dispatching center and more.

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The new facility also takes advantage of the larger parking area to be used for the public as well as a gated area for police and employee vehicles on the north and west sides of the building, Shoemaker said.

“This is exactly what we need,” said police Chief Bob Buchanan.

Shoemaker said the building would also be able to have an enclosed shooting range if council wanted to add that as an option to the project. However, he said that could add another million dollars to the project.

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Brock said he hopes to have the final design ready by the end of the summer and bid the project out this fall. He said construction could begin in early 2020 and in operation in 2021.

In late January, council approved the $1.9 million purchase of the former IGA grocery and strip center as well as a $49,000 contract to KZF to provide schematic design services for the project.

“It’s a great opportunity to move forward and reuse this building,” he said.

Brock said the cost to renovate the building for the police department will be about $6 million, which will be paid for through revenues from the income tax levy that was approved by voters in 2017.

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The city’s current facility at 233 S. Main St. is on the lower level of the Monroe City Building, but the police department has outgrown space. Brock said the space for the police department will go from 5,000 square-feet to 24,000 square-feet after the former grocery is renovated. The current police space will be used for the city’s growing administrative staff.

The city’s police department headquarters was built in 1999 to house 18 police staffers. The building is now home to 40 employees and space has become a premium as one of the building’s two interview rooms as storage space after expanding its dispatch center.