Lawrence City Commission to consider design contract for police headquarters project

photo by: Nick Krug

Undeveloped land owned by the City of Lawrence, at 5100 Overland Drive, is seen from the north, looking south, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017.

The design of the Lawrence Police Department’s new multimillion-dollar headquarters could soon be underway.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider authorizing a $1.35 million architectural services contract with Leawood firm Hoefer Wysocki for the new police headquarters, according to a city staff memo to the commission. The $17 million headquarters will be located on undeveloped land owned by the city at 5100 Overland Drive, which is behind the Walmart near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

The upcoming project is envisioned as just the first phase of the police headquarters, and one of the big questions that the upcoming design process will answer is what will be included in this phase. Assistant Director of Utilities Melinda Harger said that at a minimum, phase one will allow the police department to move its patrol, evidence and records divisions out of the downtown building it currently shares with Douglas County.

5100 Overland Dr, Lawrence, KS 66049

Harger said space for police administration will also likely be incorporated into phase one. She said whether the project’s budget can also cover moving the police department’s investigations division and other potential components to the Overland Drive location is undetermined.

“For some of those other pieces, it’s what makes sense now versus a phase two or future phases, because it could be broken up into multiple phases later on to get the rest of the campus built out over however many years,” Harger said. “But we’ve got to look at what configuration and layout makes the most sense for the facility.”

At public meetings held earlier this year, other lower-priority components for phase one of the project included an outbuilding for large vehicles, a fitness room and areas for other department staff responsible for budget analysis, crime analysis and public affairs. As part of their contract, designers will assess the police department’s overall needs, create a master plan for the police headquarters and adjacent city park and consider traffic data. In addition to the police headquarters building, the 29-acre property will also be home to a new city park. The site is zoned as open space, and the headquarters project will require rezoning, platting and a special use permit.

One of the main concerns expressed at the public meetings was how the new headquarters will affect the area’s traffic, which is heavy at certain times because of the proximity of Free State High School. For the traffic element of the design contract, Harger said designers will consider typical traffic counts for both the police headquarters and park, in conjunction with current traffic data. She said if those numbers reach a certain threshold, then a traffic study and traffic improvements such as turn lanes or other changes to traffic flow could be required.

“If this project requires any of that and that’s warranted, then this project would take on some of those public improvements to the public streets,” Harger said.

As part of their meeting Tuesday, commissioners will also consider authorizing city staff to proceed with issuing a request for proposals for “construction manager at risk” services for the project. In May, the commission voted to build the first phase of a new police headquarters using the CMAR method, in which a construction manager is selected by the city based on a combination of qualifications and cost instead of through the traditional low-bid method.

Harger said the hope is to have the construction manager hired in November and to begin a schematic design for the police headquarters at that time. She said the city will be holding meetings to collect public input on the design. Construction is expected to begin next summer, and the plan is to have the headquarters open by fall 2020.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.