Philadelphia Plans New Police Campus Boosting Growth: Muni Deals

Philadelphia wants more room for cops, and to rejuvenate a neighborhood at the same time.

The nation’s fifth-most-populous city is selling $55 million in municipal bonds tomorrow for a project that would move its distinctive police headquarters as well as a lab and morgue to a campus west of downtown, according to Treasurer Nancy Winkler.

“Moving to West Philly allows us to use an area of the city that would benefit from the development that would occur around the property and to optimize the assets we own,” she said by telephone.

Officials plan to sell the three buildings beginning in 2017.

“We think that will go well for us,” Winkler said, noting that the properties are in places where real-estate values are “very high.”

The city would offer more municipal bonds for the $250 million project next year, she said. Construction will also begin in 2015, and operations will start at the facility three years later, according to deal documents.

Handcuffs Design

“It will make lines of communication better by being in the same building,” said Lieutenant John Stanford, a police spokesman. The department’s work has also outgrown the current facility, which doesn’t have technology such as Wi-Fi, he said.

Known as the Roundhouse, the curved design of the police headquarters is a landmark example of architecture from the early 1960s, according to the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. Even the interior features, such as elevators and exit signs, reflect the rounded shape of the building, the group said. From the air, the site resembles giant handcuffs.

The new securities, which are mostly tax-exempt, are graded A2, sixth-highest by Moody’s Investors Service, which said Pennsylvania’s most populous municipality is experiencing “an improving economy and growth in the tax base.” In the city, where 26 percent live in poverty, many weak socioeconomic characteristics “have shown some more positive trends in recent years,” Moody’s said.

Pennsylvania securities this year are matching the $3.7 trillion market’s return of 4.5 percent, according to Standard & Poor’s indexes.

Philadelphia joins issuers offering $7.8 billion in bonds this week, up from $2.6 billion last week, which was shortened by the Good Friday holiday.

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