From left, Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier; Chris Becker, of Plante Moran CRESA; Royal Oak City Manager Paul Brake; and Royal Oak City Attorney David Gillam look at blueprints for the new City Hall Aug. 5.

From left, Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier; Chris Becker, of Plante Moran CRESA; Royal Oak City Manager Paul Brake; and Royal Oak City Attorney David Gillam look at blueprints for the new City Hall Aug. 5.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


New Royal Oak City Hall nears completion, PD on track for fall

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published August 11, 2020

 The new Police Department will connect to the 44th District Court via a bridge, making the process of transporting prisoners safer and more efficient.

The new Police Department will connect to the 44th District Court via a bridge, making the process of transporting prisoners safer and more efficient.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK — On Aug. 5, builders and administrators offered a tour of the new Royal Oak City Hall and new Royal Oak Police Department buildings for city officials.

Chris Becker, of the city’s real estate adviser, Plante Moran CRESA, said the City Hall will be ready for staff to move in within the next couple of weeks. While the original reopening date was set for June, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans by approximately a month and a half.

Final inspections will take place after a set of fire alarm tests. The new furniture will then be delivered, crews will clean up the construction dust and debris, and then employees will move their phones, computers and belongings into the building.

Phone service and access to some records will be interrupted from Aug. 11 to 19 as the city installs and tests its network servers at the new location, 203 S. Troy St., behind the Royal Oak Farmers Market.

Becker said both buildings needed extensive value engineering to fit their proposed budgets, as they are both approximately 10% larger than originally planned. The almost 33,000-square-foot City Hall is roughly on its $12 million budget, and the approximately 42,000-square-foot Police Department is roughly on its $19 million budget.

The Police Department used the entirety of its approximately $1 million forfeiture fund, consisting of money seized in drug raids, to make sure the project stayed on budget.

Most of the furniture in the new City Hall will be new, except for the City Commission’s chairs. The two-story building is designed with the public service departments on the first floor and the administrative, financial and legal departments on the second floor. The main floor will feature improved accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers, as well as user-friendly kiosks for online activity.

The City Commission chambers have more seating, and an adjacent overflow room will offer a view into the chamber, as well as video screens.

Both buildings have more offices, conference rooms and space for meetings. They also include environmental and sustainability measures such as economical heating and cooling systems, energy efficient roofs, LED lighting and native plantings.

The Police Department is scheduled to be open to the public by mid-October.

“The overall building is exactly what we need. It’s coming along great and is long, long overdue,” Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said. “It’s designed for police officers to spend the least amount of time inside and really get out much quicker.”

A large indoor parking area will allow officers the ability to instantly get in and out without having to wait 15 minutes during the winter for vehicles to warm up so their computers function; expedite the time it takes for a tow truck to drop off a vehicle for evidence processing; and provide storage space, O’Donohue said.

The design of the building also provides for more efficient booking and evidence processing, as well as a much safer process for transporting prisoners. Since the building will attach via a bridge to the 44th District Court, court security guards can escort prisoners, freeing up police officers to patrol.

“In the pre-COVID era, officers spent seven hours a day doing court details. Those will all go away, and it will be like gaining an extra patrol officer every day,” O’Donohue said.

The new dispatch center will be larger than the existing one, he added, in case the Police Department has to absorb another dispatch center. The building also includes a designated training space so officers don’t have to use outside facilities to train.

O’Donohue said the Police Department opted not to include a shooting range, but signed a contract with the Madison Heights Police Department 3 miles away to use the range in its basement. The Police Department will also expand its decision-making shooting simulator to a 180-degree experience.

“(Royal Oak has) done an excellent job investing in de-escalation training and using everything but their firearms,” Mayor Michael Fournier said. “I think people need to disassociate guns from policing. Our Police Department has shown true community policing — being involved in the community, de-escalating and finding solutions.”

Once the City Hall and Police Department are settled in the new buildings, the next step will be to demolish the existing buildings. Crews will then build a park in their stead. Officials are hoping to begin constructing the park next spring if all goes smoothly.

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