Naming new headquarters site a relief for TPD chief

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer 

Throughout his entire 30 year-career Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell reported to work in a building on Seventh Avenue that’s almost a century old.

Revell nor his staff will have to endure the old building much longer than a few more years. The city commission made sure of that when it recently voted unanimously to relocate TPD’s headquarters to the Northwood Centre.

Tallahassee residents had two opportunities in
December to get a close up of what the new TPD headquarters could potentially look like.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

“It absolutely brings relief (and) it also adds to the stability which we’ve been talking about a lot at the police station,” said Revell, who became TPD chief in late December. “It’s just keeping that momentum going forward and knowing where we’re going to be and the excitement that construction of that site is going to bring to our officers and our community is an amazing feeling.”

 Northwood Centre was chosen as the site that will house TPD following a year-long search that at times was contentious. It was initially planned for the Town South Shopping Center near the intersection of South Monroe and Orange Avenue, but that was scrapped when an outcry by residents led Commissioner Curtis Richardson to call for a restart on the search.

Several community meetings took place, including two in early December that gave residents a look at possibilities for both Northwood and the old wastewater treatment location on Lake Bradford.

“I’m glad that we took more community input,” Richard said. “We were deliberate, we were transparent in the process and I’m comfortable with where we are now. It’s a win-win for the community.”

Conceptual drawings of the new TPD headquarters will next be drawn up by architects. However, the community will have a chance to add input before the process is completed.

During a city commission meeting early in the search process, Commission Jeremy Matlow suggested that the headquarters be built at a site not more than two miles from the center of the city. Not long after that, the city purchased Northwood in a bid and it quickly became the leading site for the police station.

It’s located less than a half mile from the Seventh Avenue location and less than two miles from the center of the city near the intersection of North Monroe and Tennessee streets.

“We want to grow from the middle of our city out as we do developments,” Matlow said, explaining his reason for suggest a two-mile radius. “A lot of our officers are stationed now around the city and are ready to respond (but) in a central area everybody can easily access.”

Hundreds of residents responded during the search, with the majority favoring Northwood Centre.

“Everybody knew it was coming so I think we did an exceptional job there,” said Matlow. “We also brought up the idea that we need to create parity and investment so with what we are going to do on Lake Bradford Road we have an opportunity to push changing development on the south side of the city as well.”

The plans for Lake Bradford calls for a fire station to be build at the wastewater site. Additionally, a resource center for TEMPO and a station for TPD’s Community-Oriented Policing Squad are being considered.

City Manager Reese Goad said the plan for Lake Bradford could also include some private investments. However, he added that would depend on how much of the 15-acre tract of land is used for the current plans.

He also said he was especially pleased that the new TPD site is a popular choice.

“Ultimately,” he said, “through time and a lot of feedback, I think we ended up with a really good solution for our community.”