The Anchorage Police Department’s headquarters staff will likely expand into the former Legislative Information Office building being purchased by the Municipality of Anchorage, APD announced Tuesday.

The building at 716 W. 4th Avenue, which is being purchased by the Anchorage Community Development Authority, will be leased by APD to host its command, detectives and crime suppression units, as well as some of its administration and patrol elements. Other units will remain in APD’s current headquarters on Elmore Road.

Police say it's a good problem to have. Police academies have graduated several rounds of new officers in recent years and that means more cops on the streets collective evidence. Now, APD says it needs a place to put it. 

“Dispatch, records and classifying, property and evidence, most of IT, and the crime lab will remain at the Elmore location, which will be reconfigured to meet the needs of those divisions,” police said in Tuesday’ statement.

Moving personnel downtown is more convenient-- both for court appearances and for the public, the department says. Plus, it frees up space the old building for storage. 

According to police, returning HQ staff to the downtown area -- where APD was originally headquartered at 6th Avenue and C Street before it moved to Elmore in 1986 -- marks a savings from 2009 estimates of roughly $67 million for a new police campus.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz calls the deal a steal. Lawmakers were quoted $40 million to buy the building two years ago, and now, the city could own it for $14 million. 

"And the fact that we're able to do it for so much cheaper-- we're better business people than the state is," Berkowitz quipped. 

“APD has been in desperate need of additional space to house its staff, as well as property and evidence storage,” said APD Chief Justin Doll. “The expansion to 716 will address our pressing need, as well as extend APD’s physical presence in the community, with two major locations in Anchorage—on Elmore and Downtown.”

If all goes according to plan, about 250 APD employees will move into the space this fall. 

ACDA director Andrew Halcro called APD a “turnkey” tenant for the property, which was remodeled to host the state Legislature's Anchorage offices before they moved into a building at Spenard Road and Minnesota Drive. ACDA announced its decision to buy the 4th Avenue property in May.

The rent will run about $1.5 million a year. The department says it could find enough money in the budget to pay for the rest of the year but would build the cost into next year's budget. Of course, the move still has to be approved by the Anchorage Assembly. The assembly is holding a work session on the topic Tuesday. 

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