Phoenix Council Approves $46.5 Million To Buy Wells Fargo Building
By this fall, Phoenix should own the Wells Fargo Plaza downtown.
On Thursday, the City Council approved spending $46.5 million for the high-rise at First Avenue and Washington Street. It’s expected to cost another $90 million to get the building in shape for 911 operators and dispatchers and possibly police headquarters.
Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari who represents the district said, “It is the most fiscally responsible and the fastest way we can get these men and women into better working conditions.”
911 operators and dispatchers currently work out of two locations, including the basement at police headquarters which has about 29,000 square feet of unusable space due to water leaks and other issues. In 2018, Police Chief Jeri Wiliams described headquarters as “technologically obsolete.”
“When we did estimates of rehabilitating the 620 West Washington building, the current police headquarters, it was at least $50 million. So that’s more to rehabilitate that facility than it is to purchase the Wells Fargo at 100 W Washington tower,” said Ed Zuercher, city manager.
In 2019, Phoenix estimated building new police headquarters would cost between $300 million-350 million.
While there appears to be consensus among the council to move 911 operators and dispatchers into the Wells Fargo building, there will likely be future discussion about moving full headquarters.
Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia, a frequent critic of the police department, said, “It’s my understanding that before it would become a police headquarters, before it would become anything else, you’d still have to go through a process and come speak to us and figure out what’s going to go there including an option of if it doesn’t work out for us we would even be able to resell and maybe create revenue, or make sure that whatever happens there — if it’s affordable housing or whatever it could be — would be a determination we could still make as a council.”
Zuercher said the council has the authority to decide which city offices and employees will work out of the Wells Fargo building once the sale is finalized.
According to a city spokesperson, Phoenix is getting a short-term loan to cover the purchase until it determines whether to sell surplus city property to pay for the costs.