Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Scottsdale police spend $1.87 million on secret new police facility

Scottsdale taxpayers have a new $1.87 million police building, but the city has refused to disclose where it's located.
The Scottsdale City Council last week approved the purchase of an office-warehouse building for the Scottsdale Police Department's Investigative Service Bureau from an entity listed only as JKD.

The council, without discussion, voted on the real-estate deal as part of its consent agenda that included 25 other items authorized in a single 7-0 vote.

Scottsdale police spokesman David Pubins said the city is keeping the building location secret to protect undercover officers who use the facility.

"Our attorney said this is privileged information," Pubins said. "We don't want to put lives in jeopardy."

Scottsdale's council routinely approves dozens of items on its consent agenda with little discussion, but the purchase agreement for the 17,827-square-foot police building was unusual in that the city rarely executes $2 million real-estate purchases.

In addition, the staff report to the council omitted the name of the seller and the location of the building.

Another Scottsdale real-estate deal led to a legal challenge in April 2011 that was later dropped.
In that deal, Scottsdale Healthcare paid $1.5 million to the city for four buildings totaling 20,578 square feet on a 1.7-acre downtown site.

The Arizona Republic filed a public-records request for the city to release detailed information on the police building, including the location and the seller's identity, plus the current location of the leased building in use by the Investigative Service Bureau.

Arizona's Public Records Law requires government agencies to make documents available to public inspection, with some exceptions.

Dan Barr, an attorney representing the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, said using the new city building for undercover police work does not give Scottsdale an exemption from disclosing public records.

The sale will generate a public record in the Maricopa County Recorder's Office when it closes, he said.
The city released a March 26 appraisal on the 1-acre property, but the location was blacked out.
Based on that appraisal and property listings, it appears the building is in the Scottsdale Airpark northeast of Greenway-Hayden Loop and Scottsdale Road and that the seller is James K. Dobbs III.
The Airpark area is known for its high concentration of commercial buildings and is one of the Valley's largest employment centers.

Mayor Jim Lane did not return calls about the building purchase.

Councilwoman Linda Milhaven said she voted to buy the building based on the staff report and did not have any additional information about the property.

Councilwoman Lisa Borowsky said she does not know where the building is located but added that the city should disclose that information.

"I guess from their perspective, (police officials) are hesitant to give the location because they're worried about criminals finding out about it."

The appraisal said the police building, built in 1995, includes 5,576 square feet of second-floor offices in a total of 17,827 square feet.

The sale price of $1.87 million is $104.90 per square foot. The original asking price was $2.49 million.

The appraisal listed these comparable sales for Scottsdale office buildings:
A 32,404-square-foot office, built in 1999, that sold in December 2010 for $2.4 million, or $74.06 per square foot.

A 31,000-square-foot office, built in 1986, that sold in April 2011 for $3.8 million, or $123.86 per square foot.

Jim Keeley, a Scottsdale Airpark broker with Colliers International, said the city got a fair price on the building.

Office-warehouse buildings are selling for between $100 and $110 per square foot, he said.
Colliers International recently closed a deal near WestWorld on a 12,000-square-foot office warehouse that sold for $102 per square foot, Keeley said.

Cassidy Turley reported that it recently sold a 21,088-square-foot office-warehouse building in the Scottsdale Airpark for $2 million or $94.84 per square foot.

Scottsdale is currently leasing a 13,000-square-foot building for the Investigative Service Bureau at a cost of $430,000.

That lease expires in April 2013.

Scottsdale is buying the new building using funds from a federal program known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO.

The U.S. Department of Justice approved Scottsdale's expenditure.

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