Frequently Asked Questions

Of Seattle's five police precincts, the North Precinct serves the largest area (all neighborhoods north of the ship canal; 38 percent of Seattle's land mass) and greatest number of residents (43 percent of Seattle's population). The existing North Precinct Police Station, built in 1984 to house 154 staff and now home to 254, is badly overcrowded and there is not enough space available to adequately expand it on its current site. Aside from planning for future growth of personnel that will work out of the station, building a new facility on a larger piece of property offers an opportunity for the City to include features that address other needs of the entire police department as well as offer amenities to the public.

As of Aug. 10, 2016, the proposed budget for the new North Precinct Police Station project is $149.2 million, reduced from prior estimates through project adjustments reflected below:

Cost
Original Project Budget $160 million
Project budget reductions
Parking: Remove one bay of parking garage. (permanently removed from project/budget) $7 million
Funding for the following elements has been removed from the budget but will be added back into the project if sufficient funding remains:
Basement training facility: Construct only basement and shell of basement training facility. Finishes, mechanical systems, electrical, plumbing fixtures will not be constructed. This reduction will not impact the third floor classroom training area.  $1.4 million
Solar power: Remove photovoltatic panels from the garage roof but keep infrastructure to support solar array. $2.2 million
Landscaping: Remove parklette with skateable features. $.2 million
Subtotal Project Budget Reductions $10.8 million
New proposed project budget with cost reductions $149.2 million


The City's Adopted 2016-2021 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) included $160 million for the total project cost (now reduced, as described above). This budget included:

  • Land acquisition - Cost to acquire the property as well as relocation assistance for existing tenants, once they are required to vacate. (approximately $14.3 million)
  • Project development/soft costs - Includes taxes; architect, engineers and other consultants; project management; contingencies; testing, inspections, permits; legal; builders risk insurance; utility/connection/impact fees; moving/relocation; preconstruction services, etc. (approximately $52.6 million)
  • Total construction/hard costs - Includes general contractor/construction manager fees; subcontractors; construction worker wages; building materials; fixtures, furnishings and equipment, etc. (approximately $92.5 million)

The existing North Precinct Police Station, built in 1984 to house 154 staff and now home to 254, is badly overcrowded and there is not enough space available to adequately expand it on its current site. Aside from planning for future growth of personnel that will work out of the station, building a new facility on a larger piece of property offers an opportunity for the City to include features that address other needs of the entire police department as well as offer amenities to the public.

Other SPD functions - In addition to space that will accommodate regular precinct operations and growth in the number of officers over a 20-year period, the facility as designed will include a training center and firearms training facility to be used by all SPD personnel. The new firearms training facility is intended to replace the old, inadequate firing range in the basement of the existing North Precinct station and leased space at the Tukwila firing range, which has issues such as flooding, scheduling restrictions and of course, travel times exacerbated by traffic. The training center will offer more classrooms to alleviate the travel and capacity burden at SPD's training facility in South Seattle. Increased and improved training is a high priority for the City and SPD to address expectations established by the Department of Justice's consent decree. Including space within the new police station for these needs will be much more efficient and cheaper than building new, separate facilities for single purposes.

Public space - The new North Precinct facility will provide many more public amenities than the other precinct stations to align with SPD's goals to create a welcoming presence in the community they serve. Notable amenities include: a public lobby with features that will welcome those who use the building's public spaces; a large community room adjacent to the main lobby primarily for public use; conference rooms available for use by volunteers from the Victim Support Team or for residents meeting with detectives; a public plaza with landscaping and seating; a public parking lot that can be used for community events, such as the annual community BBQ or a farmer's market; new sidewalks and landscape around the entire block to enhance pedestrian safety, etc.

Building standards - Like other public safety facilities (police and fire stations) around the city and country, the building is designed with a high degree of seismic resistance and security so that officers can continue to serve the community during emergency events. While it does include ballistic-resistant glass and walls used in limited areas for the safety of the officers and visitors, typical of public safety facilities, the facility is not a "bunker" or "bomb-proof," as has been suggested.

The precinct will also house many functions that require specialized construction, such as holding cells with tamper-resistant construction; a sally port with secured access doors and monitoring devices; acoustically isolated interview rooms with sensitive recording and monitoring equipment; wider-than-typical corridors to accommodate officers in full gear and ensure the safe transfer of detainees; redundant building systems such as emergency generators to ensure continued operations during natural disasters; and specialized ventilation and filtration systems for the firearms training facility.

Sustainability - The new North Precinct facility is targeting a LEED Platinum rating by incorporating sustainable design elements that will greatly reduce energy and water consumption compared to other precincts. This also supports SPD's desire for the facility to be operational while disconnected from the grid in a large event. Although the facility may not be fully capable to operate off the grid initially, the building systems are designed and space is allocated so that new technology can be incorporated in the future. For example, the design accommodates space for future battery storage and on-site drinking water treatment capacity.

Notable sustainable features include: a ground source heat pump system using approximately 120 wells for all heating and cooling demands; reuse of grey water collected from the roof for flushing of toilets and landscape irrigation; solar hot water heaters for most of hot water demand; a large photovoltaic array (solar panels) that covers the entire garage and portions of the precinct roof; skylights to harvest daylight and LED lighting throughout the facility; 28 vehicle charging stations in the garage for fleet use.

There will be additional opportunities for public input on this project.

Per City Council Resolution 31698, adopted on Aug. 15, 2016, the City will conduct a Racial Equity Toolkit analysis, which will include discussions with different community groups. 

There will also be opportunities to provide input as City Council reviews different aspects of the project, especially during the fall budget process. You can sign up to receive City Council meeting agendas; the committees likely to discuss this project include the Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans committee and the Budget committee, and eventually Full Council. 

Additionally, the project team expects to hold an additional public open house (there have been three to date) in late 2016, following the Racial Equity Toolkit process and City Council's adoption of the budget. Once the date is determined, it will be posted on the project website and a message will be sent to the project email list (subscribe here).

Any questions or comments relating to the City of Seattle's project to site, design and build a new police station for the North Precinct can also be directed to northprecinctproject@seattle.gov.

It is still premature to begin planning for the future use of the existing station and/or property, as the Seattle Police Department's north-end operations will continue to work out of the facility until the new station is ready to occupy, tentatively in early 2019.

If and when the property is declared excess, the reuse and/or disposal of the property will follow the City's normal disposition process, which is guided by City Council-adopted procedures. In short, once a department declares a piece of property excess to its needs, it triggers an internal and external review process that includes multiple opportunities for public feedback. Neighbors within 1,000 feet of the property and parties of record receive notice when this external review begins. The City Council ultimately makes final decisions regarding what to do with each excess property.


Project Clarification

The table below provides information about the North Precinct Police Station and Training Center project to clarify misunderstandings about the project.

What's been saidWhat is it, really?Context
How did a Seattle police station bloat up to what is believed to be a U.S. record price tag of $149 million? On the basis of total project cost, the San Francisco Public Safety Building far exceeds the cost of the new North Precinct project. When the size of the building is considered, the San Francisco project and NYPD Bronx 40th Police Precinct both exceed the cost of the new North Precinct project. When escalation is considered, the new North Precinct cost is similar to Seattle’s Southwest Precinct. It is difficult to compare building costs across the country due to various regional construction cost climates. Most projects include functions beyond just a precinct. The new North Precinct project also includes a training center and a basement training facility that includes a firing range. Size must also be considered when comparing the cost of facilities.
…price tag zoomed from $89 million to $149 million… The project budget was adopted at $160 million. It has now been reduced to $149 million. The first documentation of a budget for a new North Precinct was in a 2010 memo that identified unmet public safety facility needs. North Precinct topped the list at a cost of $115 million-$130 million ($144 million-$162 million in 2017 dollars). The number was based on a description of a new building’s functions performed in 2007. Later that year, the number identified for the project had increased by $22 million. In 2012, the $89 million figure was used by City Council as a placeholder in the City’s 2013 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which also accelerated the expectation for completing the building to 2016. A new description of the building’s functions was performed with funding appropriated in the 2014 CIP; and that work produced the $160 million budget approved in the 2016 CIP.
An amphitheater for outdoor movies and concerts. The flat visitor parking lot can be used for community events such as farmer’s markets, SPD’s annual community picnic or outdoor movies, with the adjacent garage exterior wall used to project movies on.
Rain gardens. This is a detention pond used to slowly release stormwater into the City’s system during heavy rain. The Seattle Stormwater Code requires stormwater management in the overtaxed drainage basin leading to Green Lake.
A yoga/community meeting room. A community room capable of accommodating 125 seated people per regulations under the Seattle Fire Code. Potential users include more than 30 north-end community and business groups; 12 neighborhood groups that are developing micro-policing projects with SPD; community trainings for business owners and neighborhood residents, volunteers for needle pick-ups and emergency preparedness; and the North Precinct Advisory Council. Room is designed for multiple uses. All Seattle precincts were designed with a community meeting room.
An interactive boulder playground (to be frolicked upon by people in shorts and sun dresses, according to the drawings). Rocks are used in lieu of bollards to deflect vehicles from striking the front of the building, such as those in front of Seattle City Hall. Vehicular deterrents are industry standard for all public safety facilities post 9/11.
A “headwaters feature”- basically a pool with a splash stream designed to “celebrate storm water.” Stormwater management element that daylights rainwater from the roof and drains to a detention vault. The Seattle Stormwater Code requires stormwater management.
A skatepark. Skateable pedestrian elements that deflect vehicles from striking the side of the building. This feature was included as a way to enhance and activate public area/pedestrian environment.
Swirling concrete pathways inlaid with curvilinear metal that riff off a famed a Danish park. Plaza concrete is textured to create a pattern. (Metal was removed earlier in the project due to value engineering.) Creating a texture in the concrete is a simple and inexpensive way to enhance visual appeal.
Uplit terraced gardens. Landscape will be lit to provide security. Visibility of areas adjacent to precinct is required due to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles.
A rooftop running track. This is not part of the current design. A rooftop running track was considered early in the design process, but was removed long ago due to value engineering.
A light glow will project from the building façade while the soffit underneath the building canopy will include a lighting feature that emulates a ‘starry night’. Reflective metal will be used for the soffit underneath the entry overhang. Metal will reflect the required light from landscaping and other off-site light sources.
The building comes with a geothermal heating system, featuring 152 heat-capture tubes drilled 300 feet deep into the earth. There are 120 geothermal wells as part of a conventional heating and cooling system commonly used to reduce ongoing energy costs. Depth may vary depending on location of the well. This type of system was successfully installed in Seattle’s Fire Station 20, and has been commonly implemented in many Seattle Public Schools. The strategy is employed to meet LEED and Seattle Energy Code requirements. The system’s low energy use will prolong the precinct’s operability after a major disaster when utilities become unavailable.
There are plans for 48,000 square feet of solar panels. Solar panels are located on the roof of the training center. This strategy is employed to meet LEED and Seattle Energy Code requirements, and prolong the precinct’s operability after a major disaster when utilities become unavailable.
There’s also a skylighted, landscaped green roof. There was a landscaped green roof in early designs that was already removed due to value engineering. The number and size of skylights were also previously reduced due to value engineering. This strategy is employed to meet LEED and Seattle Energy Code requirements. Daylighting strategies help reduce energy use and prolong the precinct’s operability after a major disaster when utilities become unavailable.