Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Providence Division headquarters.
The 12,210-square-foot, single-story facility is at the corner of Wendover Road and Ellington Street in the heart of Grier Heights neighborhood.
Dozens of community members, police officers and city leaders came out Nov. 21 for the ribbon-cutting and took a guided tour afterward.
The former Providence Division headquarters was in the Arnold Palmer Plaza Business Park, near the intersection of North Wendover and Monroe roads, for more than a decade.
That station wasn't easily accessible or visible, said Capt. Martha Dozier, commander of the Providence Division, which serves a 17.6-square-mile area that includes communities such as Myers Park, Grier Heights, SouthPark, Dilworth and Cherry.
Grier Heights has a violent crime rate more than five times the citywide average and a property crime rate more than twice the city average, according a 2010 city neighborhood study done with CMPD. More than 74 percent of residents are on food stamps, and its quality-of-life index is listed as "challenged."
CMPD and residents hope the new station will be a crime deterrent and a way for the police to build a better relationship with the community.
Grier Heights native Gloria Green said the new police station shows growth in the neighborhood.
"It's a dream our parents always wanted," said Green, 54. "They always felt the police department needed to be closer to the neighborhood and that's happening."
The building is a mix of rust-red brick and concrete with a wide set of stairs in front. Two sculpture mosaics in the shape of pinecones - symbols of strength, durability and protection - are mounted at the top of the stairs.
CMPD worked with residents to get their input on the process.
An area artist created the pinecones from broken pottery, much of which was collected from neighbors, said Sabrina Brown, chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Art Commission, at the opening ceremony.
Inside the front doors, a terrazzo-style floor piece made from broken pottery illustrates the badge of a CMPD officer.
The new facility includes a conference room available for public use.
"It's all about bringing the police closer to the community," said Police Chief Rodney Monroe. "We're going to look to replicate this many more times."
The LEED-certified building (which means that it's environmentally friendly) is the first facility to use the new CMPD division station prototype design, and the location of the new headquarters will be a template for future police stations, as CMPD works toward getting the stations back in communities.
The city bought the land in Grier Heights for $1.4 million in 2009 and broke ground last October.
To clear the lot for the new station, the city had to displace six or seven families and destroy about 17 substandard housing units. The Charlotte Fire Department used those homes to train recruits on how to enter houses and handle hoses.
The final total cost was about $7.3 million, said CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano.
"Just by looking at the building you can see its presence as a cornerstone in the community," said Dozier. "It's a huge step in the right direction."