City Submits Proposal for Relocation of Public Safety Building to Former Site of Cobble Hill Shopping Center

New site at 90 Washington St. would house SPD Headquarters and SFD Engine 3.

SOMERVILLE – Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced today that the City has formally submitted a borrowing authorization request and a request for appropriation to the Board of Aldermen to acquire the parcel at 90 Washington St., to relocate the Somerville Police Department Headquarters and Somerville Fire Department’s Engine 3. 90 Washington St., the former site of the Cobble Hill Shopping Center, has been vacant since 2014, and was identified as the most ideal location for the new Public Safety Building through a space needs assessment and site review of several parcels of land within the city limits that met identified space requirements. The construction of the new public safety building has been included as a critical project in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan since November 2016.

“We have long recognized that the current Public Safety Building does not adequately serve the needs of our police and fire departments,” said Mayor Curtatone. “The City has taken a strategic approach to evaluating parcels throughout the City, and it is time for a public safety building that better serves our public safety staff and our residents.”

The Somerville Police Department (SPD) adopted its current location at 220 Washington St. in Union Square as its headquarters in 1985, when Engine 3 and other Somerville Fire Department (SFD) staff and apparatus also moved into the building. Prior to 1985, the building served as a car barn for the MBTA. While the building was updated to better support public safety operations, the facility was never designed to function as a public safety headquarters. More recent issues including severe flooding led to displacement and relocation of some essential services.

The City began planning for the relocation of public safety into a new facility in 2016, and hired Somerville-based design consulting firm Weston & Sampson to conduct a space needs assessment of the existing facility, as well as current operations and operational goals of SPD and SFD. The assessment determined that a new facility will require at least 77,000 square feet of space and a floor plate of at least 30,000 square feet. To identify potential locations that could accommodate this program, Capital Projects and the City’s Planning and Zoning Division identified all parcels in Somerville that are at least 30,000 square feet, ultimately selecting 90 Washington St. for its square footage and its proximity to Union Square, East Somerville, and anticipated future development in Brickbottom, Boynton Yards, and Inner Belt to improve response times, among other considerations.

In keeping with Somerville’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, the City is also proposing to build a net-zero-ready facility, which means, at a minimum, that the building will be ultra-efficient and only use electricity as its energy source. Any additional decisions beyond relocating SPD Headquarters and Engine 3 will be made as part of a full design process.