Initially when the sheriff’s department invited us to take a tour of the facility, news about a possible relocation wasn’t out. But since we were there a week after we couldn’t help but sit down and discuss the elephant in the room.
The mayor and sheriff agree that Nashville’s Criminal Justice Center — which houses the county jail, sheriff’s offices and Metro police headquarters on Second Avenue — is in dire need of replacement.
And if you tour the facility for yourself you won’t disagree. Buckled walls from water damage, rusty showers, major leakage including in the building’s boiler room are just a few major improvements that need to be made.
And instead of spending millions of dollars trying to renovate the existing building, they have proposed building new facilities. One on Harding Place in southeast Nashville and another on Jefferson Street overlooking Interstate 40.
Their proposal caught a lot of unexpected heat from Antioch and southeast Nashville residents alike. Antioch residents implored the council to reject the sheriff’s $110 million request for a new jail, and people from North Nashville said that Jefferson Street was an inappropriate place for a $23 million office building to house police administrators.
Sheriff Daron Hall says even though he is not the one who made the decision, the move makes sense, “We don’t land all over Nashville, we own land we’re were already located.” They are already zoned to do this function so a move would be effortless. He also says the move would have many benefits.
So who is the move benefiting? First off the employees.
“There is much more of a demand to go work there then it is to work here. No one if fighting us to stay here,” said Sheriff Hall.
About 400 employees will get to bid on where they would like to work. And for many a move would mean shorter commutes for them and free parking.
Visitors would also benefit. Sherriff Hall says that the qualities of visits in the current facility are terrible.
“You’re paying for parking, you’re getting lost, you’re screaming through glass to be heard, and then getting stuck in downtown traffic.”
He says the new design will be far better and more “visitor friendly” than the one that was built in 1982. One feature for example, in the new design they will have video visitation.
“We do better if (the inmate) has a better visit. It’s better when stress levels are down.”
And most importantly, taxpayers will benefit.
“If we move and the city council decides to sell that we’re not getting any revenue from this land”, he continued, “if you make us stay downtown…we’re occupying the land we’re spending about the same amount of money…no tax revenue.”
Chief Steve Anderson today released a draft architectural rendering of the new police headquarters building proposed for the 1200 block of Jefferson Street.
“I have asked the architectural firm to develop plans for a building that would respect the heritage of historic Jefferson Street and complement the neighborhood,” Chief Anderson said. “While the sketch being released today is still in draft form, I think it offers the community an idea of what the $23 million office building would look like.”
The proposed Jefferson Street headquarters would house the administrative functions of the police department, including the chief’s office, the offices of the three deputy chiefs, human resources, payroll, fiscal affairs and research staff. It would not be a police precinct or a jail facility.
Jefferson Street would continue to be served by the men and women of the North Precinct, which is located on 26th Avenue North..