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11 Investigates Exclusive: 1st look at new police substation, PNC agrees to cut lease price in half

PITTSBURGH — A phone call by city council member Anthony Coghill saved taxpayers approximately $250,000.

Relocating the downtown police substation from Liberty Avenue to Wood Street was a hot topic at Pittsburgh City Council earlier this week.

PNC Bank owns both of the buildings.

Councilmembers questioned the public safety director and the police chief about plans to move the substation.

They wanted to know how many more officers it would take to staff the substation and where they were getting those officers.

Council President Theresa Kail-Smith said her community could not avoid losing any more officers because of staffing issues.

But the biggest issue with relocating was the cost.

The city is currently paying $20,000 for operating expenses.

The new building would cost the city about $85,000 per year.

The city would also be required to pay a one-time fee of approximately $240,000 for security and technology upgrades to the building, including cameras and electronic access cards.

At the council meeting on Tuesday, members raised questions about the deal.

“How was this space chosen,” said councilmember Deb Gross.

Councilman Anthony Coghill said he planned to ask PNC if they would give the city a discount.

“It never hurts to ask. I would love to go to PNC. I would call them. I would like to call them tomorrow. They have a vested interest. They want their employees coming back downtown and they want it to be safe,” said Coghill.

After the meeting, Coghill called PNC.

“They graciously said they would even reduce the price further for us. They cut it in half so it’s probably about a $250,000 a year savings over the next five years,” said Coghill, who was thankful for PNC’s continued partnership with the city.

The city will now pay $42,000 per year for operating expenses, utilities and taxes for three floors in this newly renovated building.

The city will also pay a one-time fee of $240,000 for security and technology upgrades, including surveillance cameras and electronic access systems.

Coghill released pictures of what the substation will look like.

The city will occupy three floors.

The basement will house the bicycle units.

There will also be a community meeting room, a command center, offices, a fitness room and a small kitchen area for the 18 officers who will staff the substation.

“It’s almost triple the size. It’s much more functional. It’s much more visible. It’s a newer space that’s renovated and designed and made for police rather than a building that was originally an art gallery,” said Public Safety Director, Lee Schmidt.

Councilman Bobby Wilson, who represents the downtown district where the substation will relocate, believes the new building will help to increase safety and security downtown, especially during large events like Light Up Night.

“That’s just critical to make sure when we have these large events, people are safe,” said Councilman Bobby Wilson.

City Council is expected to approve the new reduced price agreement next week.

The building should be ready for occupancy sometime in January.

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