Framingham is investing $2M in a downtown building. What its plans are
FRAMINGHAM — The city has committed $2 million to purchase an office building next to City Hall, with aims to provide space for a potential regional dispatch center, as well as create space for a health clinic and more downtown parking.
Mayor Charlie Sisitsky signed a contract March 9 to purchase the four-story building at 188 Concord St. from a private holder, bringing it under city control.
Sisitsky told the Daily News that there are multiple reasons why the building is attractive to the city, the first being that it would be a desirable location for a regional dispatch center, a central hub for 911 calls to be received and processed and used by multiple communities. The project has been on Sisitsky’s agenda, getting a mention during his State of the City speech earlier this year.
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“Framingham currently has separate police and fire dispatch units,” the mayor said. “It’s been a desire of the city for some time to combine them to make a joint dispatch center, with independent dispatchers separate from police and fire. We got the idea that it would make sense to offer the same service to surrounding communities, and by doing that we become eligible for a substantial amount of grants from the state’s 911 commission.”
Sisitsky said the city has been working on a joint dispatch plan with both the Fire and Police departments, and has also conducted a feasibility study. Framingham officials have reached out to Sudbury, Wayland and Natick to consider joining Framingham in a regional dispatch arrangements.
“We want to put it on the fourth floor of the 188 Concord Street building; it makes all the sense,” Sisitsky said. “It’s 4,000 square feet, which is the perfect size, and it’s next to the Police Department where all the infrastructure is for dispatches.”
Natick Town Administrator Jamie Errickson said his town has been in contact with Framingham about a potential regional dispatch center, but that Natick is roughly “two years behind” Framingham when it comes to getting that project off the ground.
“We are in the very early stages of exploring our options,” Errickson said, noting that Sherborn recently joined a regional dispatch center in Holbrook. “The main thing is that there are a lot of state grants that come from joining a regional dispatch center, so we are talking to all of our neighboring communities about that.”
Another reason for the purchase is to give the city a permanent space for the Health Department’s public health clinic. Sisitsky said there isn’t space at City Hall for the clinic, and the city is paying $30,000 annually to lease space for the clinic at 113 Concord St.
“We will give up that space and move the clinic to one of the existing offices at 188,” the mayor said.
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Finally, Sisitsky said the purchase will benefit public parking downtown. The building comes with a 44-space parking lot, which is adjacent to an existing public lot behind City Hall. Sisitsky said now that the city owns the building, the two lots can be connected, which both increases the number of public spaces and will make the lot easier to navigate.
“By owning the building, we can redevelop the parking area to make it more efficient,” he said.
The building has one tenant, the Massachusetts Parole Board, which Sisitsky said will remain.
The mayor said the building will require some modifications if it were to become a regional dispatch center, which the city aims to fund with grants from the state-run 911 Commission. Sisitsky said the building could also be used as a swing space for public offices, which could come in handy if the city ends up renovating City Hall.
“It will need renovations for it to become a dispatch center, such as increasing its power source to be able to handle the demands, and our hope is that the grants we get for making it a regional dispatch center pay for that,” Sisitsky said. “We also can use some of the open space in the building as swing space, particularly if we end up renovating City Hall. Having 188 right next door will make it easy to move departments into there while we renovate the building one section at a time.”
This article originally appeared on MetroWest Daily News: Framingham buys Concord Street office building for $2 million