Former grocery store site getting second look for new Monroe police facility

A former grocery store on South Main Street is getting a second look at becoming the location for the new Monroe police facility.

Last week, Monroe City Council gave a first reading for a resolution to approve a $49,000 contract for KZF Architects to provide schematic design services at the former IGA store, 601 S. Main St., for a new police station. That resolution and a $1.9 million purchase agreement for the building and strip center could be finalized at the council meeting on Tuesday.

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City Manager Bill Brock said the agreement would set the next stage for the design and development of a new police facility as previously directed by the council and 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.

The city looked at the possibility of locating the new police station at the IGA building a year ago, but Brock said “it did not make sense financially at the time.”

However, after the city announced Nov. 13 that it would locate the new police facility on city-owned property at Community Park off South Main Street just down the street from the IGA building, Brock said the owners of the former grocery store and strip center, Munafo Seven, Inc., and Ofanum Partners, contacted the city to begin re-negotiations. The 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.

“Now we feel this is the direction to go,” Brock said.

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Brock said the building and strip center would be purchased by the city.

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

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

In 2012, MidPointe 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.

The city also looked at a site off Yankee Road for a new police station before deciding on the Community Park location.

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