Casper will move forward with the $8 million purchase of a downtown office building to serve as the city’s new police headquarters, following a vote Tuesday evening from city council.
Council members voted unanimously in favor of the sale, with the exception of Kyle Gamroth, who was not present at the special meeting.
It should take between two and three years to renovate the office building and complete the transition, according to city estimates.
Right now, the police department operates out of the first floor and basement of the Hall of Justice, a county-owned building across from City Hall that also houses the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office. For years, police have asked the city for a larger space to accommodate a growing force, modern technology and to bring all branches of the department under one roof.
The city spends around $250,000 a year on rent for multiple police buildings.
“The amount of money that we’re spending on this building, over time will have been wasted in rent,” said council member Bruce Knell. “It’s been a tremendous amount of money.”
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The cost of the building is set to come out of $9.1 million in American Rescue Plan money Casper received. City Manager Carter Napier said the city hasn’t touched any of the money yet.
Casper looked at 15 other buildings and even considered constructing a new facility entirely (which would have cost between $45 and $50 million, Napier said) before setting its sights on the Casper Business Center.
“You have dispatch, the police department itself, the courts will be going in there,” Vice Mayor Steve Freel said Tuesday, “Along with... space to decongest some of the other departments within the city.”
The building’s sale is set to close on Friday in a deal with current owner Wyoming Financial.
There are still around 10 offices in the building that will need to find new space as the department moves in. Tenant Mountain West Technologies, a subsidiary of Wyoming Financial, will remain in the building during the transition while its new headquarters are being built.
Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.