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Council declines to scale back Seventh Avenue police headquarters

Rejecting a modest redesign that cut the cost by 5 percent, the Hendersonville City Council on Thursday endorsed the original plan for a new city police station and committed to spend $11.5 million on the two-story headquarters on Ashe Street.

During a special called meeting to consider reducing the cost of the project, council members evaluated the revised plans from Charlotte-based ADW Architects. Architect Keith Carlyon described the design tweaks, which reduced the size of a 26,000-square-foot building by around 1,500 square feet.

“We looked at some drastic things that would cause complete redesign,” Carlyon said. “There’s a point of diminishing returns in value.”
Fixed costs such as the property purchase and site work mean that the price per square foot goes up as the building size goes down. Cutting the size substantially, the architect added, would affect how well it would function.

To reduce the total square footage by 1,500 feet, the architects took out one garage bay, downsized a community meeting room, eliminated a retaining wall and trimmed the size of an evidence room and rollcall room.
“Unfortunately, I think as Hendersonville grows we’re going to need more law enforcement rather than less or the same,” Councilman Steve Caraker said. “If we’re only going to save $600,000 that’s really not enough to start knocking stuff out. We're counting on this building to be a piece of the Seventh Avenue revitalization.”
Councilman Jerry Smith asked for the revaluation of the plans to identify cost savings at the council meeting last week.
“Since I’m the one that brought it up I’m comfortable leaving it like it is,” Smith said.
Mayor pro tem Ron Stephens cast the no vote on the motion to greenlight the project.
“I would have put it off for a couple of years because we’ve got so much demand for our tax dollars,” he said, ticking off the upcoming costs the city faces in the coming years: higher health insurance and retirement costs, as many as 15 new firefighters, a new fire engine and potentially a new fire station in the southeastern section of the city.
The council also agreed that it would finance the construction over 35 years, at a cost of $570,000 a year in debt service, the equilavent of 3 cents of property tax.