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Central Parkway Or College Hill? Residents Weigh Where To Build District 5's New HQ

Tana Weingartner
District 5's now-closed building on Ludlow Avenue lacked parking and had flooding issues.

Cincinnati Council's Law and Public Safety Committee held a public hearing Monday to get input on the two sites that are still in the running to be the permanent home for the Cincinnati Police Department's District 5 headquarters.

Those locations are:

  • 3300 Central Parkway, which is the site of the city's former Permit Central facility. The site is owned by the city and would make use of an existing building shell and foundation. The cost to develop this location into District 5 would be about $9.7 million.
  • 5837 Hamilton Avenue, College Hill, which is the site of the temporary District 5 location. The city estimated the cost for a permanent location at this site is about $22.45 million. The additional costs are to keep the temporary location open during construction, and buying the property and the leases of the existing tenants.

Twenty-one people offered comments during the hearing - 12 in favor of Central Parkway and nine supporting the College Hill location.
Resident Maureen France said she favors Central Parkway for obvious reasons.

"It's centrally located, it's available now to start construction or renovation of the building for the station, and the cost of approximately $9 million versus $22 million, it seems like a no-brainer," France said.

Gerald Sturgill, who lives in Northside, also supports Central Parkway because of its location.

"I think District 5 should be located where all of District 5 would benefit more from it," Sturgill said.

But supporters of the College Hill site argue that location is closer to where the majority of the calls for service in District 5 come from.  

College Hill resident and Citizens on Patrol volunteer Jim Bodmer says officers aren't sitting at District 5 waiting to respond to calls.

"If you think that just because it's in College Hill you're not going to get any response from District 5 if you call for help, that's a misnomer," Bodmer said. "Because if they had police sitting up a District 5 just waiting to go out on a call, then the police department would certainly have too many people."

They also say building there would be an economic investment in the neighborhood.

"This College Hill location is an investment that will pay dividends for years," said College Hill resident Tim Sexton. "I believe that the alternative location will be an expense and an expense only."

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman said he's planning to hold another public hearing, to be scheduled in the evening at City Hall, before making a decision on a District 5 location.

Back in November, the city manager said in a memo there is enough money in the original project budget for the Central Parkway location, but not enough for the Hamilton Avenue site.

"If the Hamilton Avenue site is chosen, it is the administration's recommendation that the city use some of the project funds to acquire the site and postpone the start of construction to allow for the existing tenant leases to expire, which will bring down the overall cost of the project," the memo said. "In this scenario, District 5 headquarters would remain in the current temporary headquarters until the new facility is constructed. As required per the Ohio building code, the administration would make additional improvements, estimated at roughly $2.6 million, to make the current location more suitable as a long-term headquarters."

Once a site is selected, officials said it will take 18-24 months to complete the new facility.

The city considered 37 potential sites for the new District 5 headquarters.

The memo said the city administration is awaiting City Council's direction on which of the two sites to ultimately select as the location for the new headquarters.

District 5 officers were relocated in 2017 after some officers and council members expressed concerns about the working at the old location at 1012 Ludlow Avenue. Those included cramped office space and health problems.

District 5 serves nine full neighborhoods in the city: Camp Washington; Clifton; College Hill; CUF Heights; Mt. Airy; Northside; Spring Grove Village; and Winston Hills. It also serves small parts of Carthage, Corryville, South Cumminsville and Westwood.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.