KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A well-known Knoxville property continues to be transformed. It’s been more than two years in the making and millions of dollars are being poured into building the City’s new public safety complex at the old Saint Mary’s Hospital campus.
The hope is to start moving people to the new complex in phases at the end of December going into 2023.
“It’s coming along,” Messer Construction Senior Project Manager Jason Hess said. “It’s been a long time coming. We’re down only a few months left.”
Knoxville Deputy Mayor and Chief Operating Officer David Brace is proud of the project.
He said, “There’s some real opportunities that we think will add some life to Broadway, to the retail spaces on Woodland, and obviously Oakwood-Lincoln Park.”
Completing the complex has hit some speed bumps along the way. Brace cites the pandemic and façade issues on the former Professional Office Building as delays.
“The team is here,” Brace said. “They got scaffolding up addressing the façade safety issue. Removing that dangerous façade and then starting to put back on new exterior sheeting. And again, we just saw the interior of the Police Professional Office Building area is about complete. Conditioned, lights are on, painted, so different phases for different parts of the building.”
“It’s 12-hour days, six days a week. A lot of people in here,” Hess said. “I think we’ve been running upwards of 80 to 90 people between all the subcontractors so we got a lot of work to do and we got the right team in place.”
In addition to serving as headquarters for the police department, fire administrators and emergency personnel, the facility will also house a new 911 backup center, a courtroom and a real-time crime center.
Brace said, “Which is a center that lets the chief and the police department and other partnering agencies analyze data and really help address solving crime. And in some instances getting the right resources to the scene depending on the information that’s out there so it’s really bringing in data and information to be more effective at what you do. This project finishing up allows us to think about the next phase which is the north campus and the historic hospital.”
Brace added another goal is to save the old Saint Mary’s Hospital building and turn it into housing but the City will be getting community input on what to do next.
The new Public Safety Complex is about a $70 million investment, which is almost double than what was originally projected. As for the current Knoxville Police headquarters, Brace said a developer is planning to build a family-friendly science museum.