TURLOCK — Want to buy a police department? Turlock's is for sale.
Officers, cars and equipment aren't up for bid, just police headquarters on Palm Street.
The Turlock City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved putting the building up for sale, along with two other actions aimed at building a new public safety center: seeking bids for construction and moving forward with a potential sale of bonds to help pay for it.
City officials have been planning the new public safety center, to be built next to the Carnegie Arts Center on Broadway, for years. But the project has been in limbo because of a funding shortfall.
Director of Development Services Mike Pitcock said the city nonetheless wants to take advantage of the favorable bidding environment — a silver lining in the recession.
"Low bids are coming in at 25 to 30 percent below the estimate," Pitcock said. For example, the city will pay $5.1 million to rebuild the arson- damaged Carnegie, after estimates put the project at $7.8 million.
Original estimates for the public safety center, a two-story, 57,000-square-foot building that would house the Police and Fire departments, put the cost at about $35 million. That figure has been lowered to $29.7 million. The building will be on a 4.6-acre lot next to the Carnegie, and the two facilities will share a parking lot.
Pitcock's report to the council calls for funding from a variety of sources, including a $13 million bond, $3.2 million in redevelopment money, $4 million from a construction contingency fund and $2.5 million from selling the current Police Department building.
That money would leave a funding gap of $5.6 million. City officials hope competitive bidding makes up some of that.
"If (bids for the) public safety facility came in at 29 percent (below the estimate), we would not have a funding gap," Pitcock said.
Tuesday's action does not mean the city definitely will issue bonds. That depends on whether the bids that come in are within expectations, Pitcock said. The matter will come back before the council for a final decision.
The vote does set in motion a timeline for the project:
Bids will be opened Nov. 9. If costs are within the estimates, staff will seek approval to sell bonds Nov. 23. The council will hold a special meeting the first week of December to award the bids, and construction then could begin.
In the meantime, the city has secured most of the property needed for the public safety center and razed the buildings. The sole holdout is a Pizza Hut on Olive Avenue; the city and its owners are engaged in a lawsuit.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2343.