New police home to cost nearly $8 million

FRONT ROYAL – A new headquarters for Front Royal police could cost nearly $3 million more than estimated, town leaders learned Tuesday.

Representatives from Moseley Architects gave Town Council an update on the police department headquarters project at a work session and provided costs for three options. Regardless of which option council picks, the cost would exceed earlier, rough estimates of $5.5 million.

Council also faces the task of figuring out how the town can cover the added cost. The town recently imposed an increase in the real estate tax rate and earmarked a certain portion of that added revenue toward the cost of a new station, among other capital projects. Town officials have not recommended that council increase the tax rate next year. During a discussion about the tax rate for the next year Councilman Eugene Tewalt voiced concerns about leaving the levy unchanged, noting that the town needs to find a way to cover the project’s increased cost.

The department operates out of the former Warren County Sheriff’s Office under a lease agreement. The agency moved into the space when asbestos started to fall from the ceiling in its previous home in a former post office. The town bought land in the former Avtex Fibers site, at Kendrick Lane and Monroe Street, from the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority for a new headquarters.

Mayor Timothy Darr noted that this project would be the town’s first building constructed specifically for its police department. Tewalt concurred.

Darr suggested council consider approving a proclamation at its next meeting indicating the town would move forward on the least expensive option offered by the architects. Darr and Tewalt also asked for information on how much the town would need to pay each year on a loan for the project if it borrows the money.

Moseley Architects studied the department’s current space needs (as of last year) as well as what the agency likely would require by 2030 and 2040, Vice President Tony Bell explained.

The first option calls for the town to build a new station to only the current space needs at an estimated cost of $9.26 million. The option includes the construction of an 11,527-square-foot station, a 5,207-square-foot support building and parking areas for employees and the public. The town could then build additions on both structures in 2040.

The second option calls for the town to construct a station that would meet the department’s needs by 2040 and a support building with space for 2030, at an estimated cost of $8.15 million.

The third and least-expensive option calls for the town to construct the station and support building to meet the department’s needs 25 years in the future at an estimated cost of $7.78 million.

Constructing the additional space now at today’s prices rather than in the future would save the town money, officials noted. The estimates assume an escalation in cost of 2.5-percent increase by 2040. Bell said construction prices have increased by as much as 9 percent in some cases and none in others. Bell indicated that costs would not decrease by 2040.

The 2040 estimates assume growth in Front Royal, Town Manager Steve Burke said.

“What it represents is that somewhere between now and 15, 25 years we anticipate development of the Front Royal Limited Partnership property, anticipate full use of the Avtex site and development of the properties along the Leach Run Parkway,” Burke said. “If all that happened tomorrow, we would be coming back to you and asking for an additional five (police) officers for an additional shift to account for all of that development.

“What we need tomorrow all depends upon how quickly the town develops both commercially and residentially,” Burke added.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com