After years in cramped precinct, police near new space in Millard

When two Omaha police officers start to walk toward each other down the halls at the southwest precinct headquarters, one has to back up because there's not enough room for two officers and their gear.

Narrow hallways are among the many problems at the southwest precinct, said Capt. Adam Kyle of the Omaha Police Department's support services division.

Now, the Omaha City Council is set to vote to spend about $8 million on a new southwest police precinct headquarters in the Millard Lumber redevelopment.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the City of Omaha," Kyle said. "All the stars are in alignment."

Under a proposed agreement, Lanoha Development would construct a new building in that area, and the city would take ownership by Sept. 1, 2016.

"Millard Lumber is on the verge of great change, and I believe Lumberyard District will be a central driver in this change," developer Jason Lanoha wrote in a letter of intent to the city. "The addition of an Omaha Police Precinct will not only further help ensure an exciting future for this area, but will also send a strong message that Downtown Millard is a priority for our city."

The proposed agreement says Lanoha would build a two-story, 22,600-square-foot building at 135th and Q Streets.

It would be in the southeastern end of a planned mixed-use development on the site of the former Millard Lumber.

The city plans to pay for the project with $5.2 million from its public facilities bond fund, $1.6 million from the capital improvement fund and $1.1 million from the advance acquisition fund.

A new southwest precinct wouldn't change an ongoing discussion about adding a fifth police precinct in western Omaha, Council President Pete Festersen said.

"Regardless, this precinct would be needed for this area," he said at the Tuesday council meeting.

Kyle said the city had long planned to move the department out of the existing 7,600-squarefoot building that houses about 110 officers.

Cassie Seagren of the Mayor's Office helped put the Police Department in touch with Lanoha Development.

The new facility would be built to address police and safety needs while fitting with the style of the neighborhood, Kyle said.

"We've been wanting this for a long time," he said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1084, roseann.moring@owh.com

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