EBR council OKs purchase of former Woman’s Hospital

The former Woman’s Hospital is officially on its way to becoming a new public safety complex for Baton Rouge Police and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The Metro Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve paying $11 million to buy the hospital site, applauding the move as a great deal for the entire parish.

Councilman Chandler Loupe was absent.

“It’s in mid-city, in that strategic location,” said Metro Councilman Ryan Heck, whose district includes the campus. “You couldn’t have chosen a better location.”

The former hospital at the intersection of Airline Highway and Goodwood Boulevard, was appraised for $19 million, but is being sold for $10 million, city-parish officials said.

The extra $1 million covers the cost of some renovation work, and the cost of hiring engineers and consultants to survey the property before it was purchased.

The city-parish is financing the campus with a 15-year loan from J.P. Morgan, with a 2 percent interest rate. The city-parish will close on the deal by June 8.

A review of the property has identified $3.2 million worth of “short term” improvements and renovations that will need to be done before police can move in.

Finance Director Marsha Hanlon said renovation funds will be pieced together from budgets of the Department of Public Works and Police Department.

Officials said they hope the move-in will begin before the end of the year. City police are currently headquartered on Mayflower Street in what was a former school built in the 1930s.

The police moved into the dilapidated building in 1989 for what was supposed to be a temporary stay.

Officers in the city police headquarters and those located in the Third District precinct on Coursey Boulevard will the first to relocate to the new campus.

The Sheriff’s Office is located on St. Louis Street next to the 19th Judicial court house. Before the Woman’s Hospital deal was announced last year, the city-parish signed off on a new lease agreement with the Baton Rouge Metro Airport to give the Sheriff’s Office a larger office space near the airport. However, that move has been delayed because of construction issues at the site.

William Daniel, Mayor-President Kip Holden’s chief administrative officer, said the sheriff’s office will relocate to the new campus at some point after the police department has been moved in.

Unlike the police department’s offices, which are closer to move-in ready, the space planned for the sheriff’s offices will have to be renovated to suit their needs.

In addition to office space, the campus features a parking garage, space for a training facility for police academies and a police warehouse.

Holden has long envisioned creating a shared headquarters to be used for public safety. In his most recent infrastructure tax plan — which was rejected in 2011 by the Metro Council — Holden proposed spending $102 million to build a new facility.