Civic

New Police Station Going Up Near 7th Avenue

Police Capt. Tracey Cox leads a tour of the new Hendersonville HPD station he helped design.

Hendersonville

Our first look at the new HVL Police Station construction, nearer than the current site to the high-crime part of town.

Hendersonville’s new police station, which had a ceremonial beam raising last week, is on track to open in August to provide police much more space and community policing closer to high-volume call areas.

Construction began in mid-June on the $11.5 million, two-story facility on Ashe Street between Seventh Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard/Four Seasons Blvd. It is 26,215 square ft, and much more spacious than the current HPD headquarters. HPD is in the northern part of City Hall — at 160 Sixth Ave. E., at the corner of King Street.

Exterior and interior walls are up at the construction site. Work is steadily progressing on the interior.

The next major step is enclosing the structure with a roof for protection from the elements. Hendersonville City Manager John Connet told the Tribune that the roof is due to go up in April — weather permitting. Support Services Capt. Tracey Cox, who developed many layout details, said the station should be completed and equipped by August.

“I’m excited,” Cox said. “This is the first time we’ve had a facility specifically for police to use.” Cox vividly recalls when police operations shared a tiny old structure with City Water and Sewer employees. That was right across busy Sixth Avenue East from the current site. Cox has overseen telecommunications (911 emergency dispatch) for decades, on the front lines. His 28th anniversary with HPD is on Friday, Jan. 29.

Spacious and Functional Design

Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk was among city officials on hand Jan. 20 for the ceremonial lifting of the final construction beam, after several people signed their signatures to it. They included police employees and the general public.

Police will have much more space in their new station, Mayor Volk said. 

“The police department in City Hall has been cramped — sharing offices, and with tight quarters. They deserve to have space to function better.”

Bill Hollingsed, interim police chief since last August, likes the station size and layout. He said the design (also by ADW Architects) is similar to the police station in Waynesville, where he was police chief for more than 20 years — until retiring in 2019. Edifice, like ADW based in Charlotte, is the general contractor for the HPD station.

Rooms include processing evidence, storing firearms, witness and suspect interviewing, fingerprinting, roll call, and a garage on the east side.

Captain Cox led tours of the facility on Jan. 20. He told the Tribune the gem is a huge training room. Hollings calls it a “great resource.” Since the elongated room is beside the public entrance off Ashe Street. That makes it easier to lock off the rest of the facility during classes for officers or the public.

Lt. Mike Vesely said the new station is “long overdue.” He supervises motorcycle officers. He praised the spacious new garage (as opposed to the current outside lot) for many vehicles to park, and get maintained.

Hendersonville police, firefighters and city officials are in front of the new HPD station’s ceremonial final beam that they autographed. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Hendersonville police, firefighters and city officials are in front of the new HPD station’s ceremonial final beam that they autographed. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

More Room for Other City Offices

In turn, by moving police out of City Hall other municipal operations will have much more space for their offices, she said. Too many offices are “doubled up,” and co-workers “spread out” too far from each other, she said. A glaring example of over-crowding is that an intern’s desk is in a lobby.

City Council meetings will continue to be mostly held in the City Operations Center off of Williams Street which is getting renovated — rather than remodeling City Hall for a spacious room, Mayor Volk said.

City Council authorized the $11.5 million new station project two years ago. The city secured a low-interest loan for that full amount, from the U.S. Agriculture’s Rural Development section.

The new police station site is about an acre, combining nine parcels, Connet said. He noted the city already owned three of the lots, making land acquisition less costly. The city bought six adjacent parcels. Four of the six parcels were vacant.

Faster Response Time from Site

The station is off of Ashe Street, between Seventh Avenue and MLK Boulevard, and — more specifically — between Pace and James side streets. That location is closer to where police often head to on calls. MLK is the section of Four Seasons Boulevard closest to Downtown Hendersonville, morphing into Sixth Avenue then U.S. 64 West heading westward. High-density Four Seasons Boulevard has many shopping plazas and other businesses, and is a source of many calls, officials said.

The current HPD station is only a few blocks to the west and has more direct access to MLK Boulevard. But to handle calls on Seventh Avenue, squad cars have to cross MLK Boulevard or circle to the other side of Seventh after going along King/U.S. 25 North.

A significant bonus is the site is close to the Seventh Avenue community that officials note has an above-average crime rate. Closer police proximity means quicker response time. Greater police presence can deter crime. It can also raise the sense of security for nearby residents, and patrons of Seventh Avenue area establishments — thereby boosting the district’s business and economic vitality.

Councilmember Lyndsey Simpson said people who want to report a crime or “who have concerns can walk to the police station.”

Connet said the city is making a “strong commitment to a neighborhood that has felt neglected.” The Rev. Anthony McMinn runs Hendersonville Rescue Mission near the station site. In his invocation for the beam lifting, The Rev. McMinn called on police to continue to “uphold justice” for citizens.