This former IGA grocery store will now officially become a police station

Monroe council approved legislation Tuesday for design services and a purchase agreement for the former IGA store and strip center that will be converted into a new police facility. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Monroe council approved legislation Tuesday for design services and a purchase agreement for the former IGA store and strip center that will be converted into a new police facility. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Monroe police will soon have a new home and room to grow for the future.

City Council on Tuesday approved emergency legislation to purchase the former IGA grocery store and strip center at 601 S. Main St. for $1.9 million. It also approved a $49,000 contract for KZF Architects to provide design services for the new police facility.

“We plan to close (on the property) by the end of February,” said City Manager Bill Brock. “Design work will require the remainder of the year, with anticipation of start of construction to be in 2020. “

Brock said the new facility should be “up and running by early 2021.”

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The project will be funded through the additional 0.50 percent income tax approved by voters in 2017. 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 the space.

The city’s police department headquarters was built in 1999 to house 18 police staffers. The building is now home to 40 employees, according to Police Chief Bob Buchanan. He said the department is using one of the building’s two interview rooms as storage space after expanding its dispatch center. Another issue is that the current police headquarters at the city building is landlocked and parking is scarce, according to officials.

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The former IGA site includes the 23,000-square-foot building, parking areas, pond and the vacant lot at the west corner of Main Street and Carson Road.

“With the police department there, we felt that it was important to have control of that property,” Brock said.

A Cassano’s Pizza and Foggyz Vapor Lounge occupy two of the retail spaces in the strip center.

“We have no current plans for other uses within the retail space and will continue the existing leases,” Brock said.

Brock also said residents wanted to see a good use of that property, which has been vacant for several years.

In 2012, MidPointe Library pursued plans to renovate the former IGA site. Those plans were nixed because MidPointe and the property owner, Munafo Seven Inc., couldn’t reach a lease agreement.

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Monroe is not the first city in Butler County to repurpose a former grocery as a police station. Hamilton’s police headquarters on South Front Street was a former Kroger store.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said the building was remodeled in 1977 and converted from a grocery to a facility combining the police department and Hamilton Municipal Court. The building was renovated again in 2000 when the Municipal Court moved after the Government Services Center was constructed in 1999.

“I think over the years, its served HPD and our community well,” he said. “It’s a solid building.”

Bucheit said officials have talked about the need for a new facility in the future as technology changes and other issues arise.

There are other area government buildings that were used by another public entity or a former grocery/retail store. The current Franklin police station was formerly the public library; the Butler County Educational Services Center is in a former Kroger store and the Warren County Educational Services Center is in a former Walmart.