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Will Akron use an existing space for its police headquarters or build new? City considers 10 sites

 People walk across South High Street near the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center in downtown Akron.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
People walk across South High Street near the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center in Downtown Akron. Akron officials are considering moving the police department to a different location.

Akron is considering 10 sites for its police headquarters, including the building that used to house the Akron Beacon Journal, the now-vacant St. Thomas Hospital and the land where a Wonder Bread bakery once stood.

Akron City Council recently approved a $200,000 contract with architectural firm AECOM to help city officials evaluate the 10 options.

Included in the list is the current headquarters, the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center, which the city might renovate instead of moving the department to a new location, said Mayor Shammas Malik.

“We’re either going to do that or retrofit an existing building, essentially rehab an existing building elsewhere, or build a new building,” Malik said. "That’s a lot of possibilities."

The city received eight applications in a request for proposals, five of which were selected for the shortlist, Malik said. Officials are also considering three locations submitted by the University of Akron and two that the city already owns, including the Stubbs building.

The current building is in dire need of repairs, Malik added. The project is also part of ongoing efforts to improve policing in Akron. 

“It ties into what we want to see in the future of the Akron Police Department and the kind of policing we want to see,” Malik said. “This isn’t just to throw money at a problem — this building is not conducive to the long-term success of the Akron Police Department.”

Other sites being considered include the former Central-Hower High School, owned by the University of Akron; a building located at 80 West Bowery St., owned by Akron Children’s Hospital; a vacant plot of land on Bellows Street, owned by ASIK Properties, LLC & SAF, Inc.; a vacant plot between South Main and Broadway streets on Thornton Street, owned by Rubber City Arches; vacant land on Grant Street owned by the University of Akron and the Morley Health Center on Broadway Street, owned by the city of Akron.

“A lot of that is going to be determined by cost,” Malik said. "But I think we want to get all ideas on the table and let the experts weigh in."

The city received more than 20 site suggestions through its request for proposals, the University of Akron and internally, Malik added.

Officials narrowed down the list based on locations’ proximity to Downtown and available parking space, he added.

Another priority is for the building to have enough space for community organizations to use in addition to APD, Malik said.

“Our nonprofits and particularly organizations that are working with young people are always looking for meeting space and different event space, so if there is community space that could kind of be co-located with this, I think it would further our goals for community policing,” Malik said.

AECOM will provide a report and recommendations based on their feasibility study in the coming months, he said.

He intends to decide whether to renovate the Stubbs building or relocate the headquarters by June, he added.

The Akron Municipal Court and several city departments that previously used the Stubbs building have since relocatedto the Oliver Ocasek Building on Broadway Street due to the building's condition.

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.