The city of Sandy Springs is finally moving forward on a plan to relocate its police and Municipal Court departments into a new, larger facility.
“This has been an item on the city’s mind for a number of years,” City Manager Andrea Surratt said. “… Because we have been very frugal over the years, the properties have worked and served us well, but the police department has expanded as well, and we’ve outgrown our space. Also, the facility is not as safe as current conditions should be.”
At its Aug. 18 meeting, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sandy Springs City Council voted 6-0 to approve spending $11.025 million to purchase two parcels of land totaling 12.5 acres at 620 Morgan Falls Road to build a new public safety facility to house both departments.
Prior to the council meeting, the city’s public facilities authority, which is the council acting on behalf of Sandy Springs’ development projects, also voted 6-0 to approve the same measure.
Surratt said the city has been using two buildings for police and one for the court since 2011 at the Morgan Falls Office Park (7840 Roswell Road) where City Hall was located before moving to the City Springs complex in 2018, plus a police gym on Hilderbrand Drive and a police situation shoot house in Doraville.
Those facilities would be consolidated into one location on the new property, which includes an A-shaped building the police and court departments will repurpose and was previously used as London-based WorldPay’s U.S. headquarters. Surratt said the police and court’s current facilities take up nearly 60,000 square feet and the new one will occupy about 100,000.
In 2017, she added, the police department’s staff had grown to about 200 employees, and in 2019 the city conducted a spatial-needs assessment to determine what it would require. In January, the city adopted the new public safety facility as one of its priorities for this year.
Sandy Springs’ leaders found five sites that would meet the city’s criteria for a new public safety facility before deciding on the 620 Morgan Falls Road location. They were able to negotiate the price down from an original amount of $17.5 million, Surratt said, and it was appraised for $11 million.
After being asked by District 3 Councilman Chris Burnett how much the police and court departments are paying in rent today, she said it’s about $600,000 a year. Mayor Rusty Paul, recalling when his office was at the old City Hall, said the new public safety location is long overdue.
“They’ve been very patient with us because the facilities they’re in are not up to standards they are (supposed to be) now,” he said. “At the old City Hall, I had to share a restroom with the prisoners.”