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The Philadelphia Public Services Building is finally open at 400 N. Broad St. after an extensive three year renovation officials say cost the city roughly $252 million.
Built in 1924, the 468,000-sq.-ft. property housed The Philadelphia Inquirer for nearly 90 years, until the city’s paper of record moved out in 2012.
The soaring white tower will now serve as the Philadelphia Police Department’s new headquarters, where sloping indigo hallways with checkered floors lead to a maze of facilities extensively outfitted to meet the needs of the force.
Philly police were originally supposed to relocate to the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. in West Philadelphia at 46h and Market, but after the city sank $50 million into it, the plan was abandoned. A deal to take over the building at Broad and Callowhill was struck in 2019.
There’s been an effort to preserve the historical integrity of the building, which is listed in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
The directory for The Inquirer sits inside a gilded frame beside an ornate globe chandelier that still illuminates the lobby, and the outside plaque titled “The Philadelphia Inquirer Building” remains, serving as reminders of the building’s legacy.
The project’s centerpiece is the restoration and modernization of the massive four-faced clock tower that inhabits the 18th and 19th floors of the building. It was restored through a $75,000 contract with Montgomery County-based Elderhorst Bells.
Police HQ moved over from an equally distinctive (but architecturally opposite) structure on 7th and Race streets. Known as the Roundhouse, its hulking, curved granite has served as the city’s Police Administration Building since the 1960s.
What will happen to that building? The request for proposals was recently closed, according to city spokesperson Joy Huertas, and bids are currently being evaluated. The winning bidder will be charged with leading a “robust public engagement piece” to help determine next steps for the property. Whatever deal is struck, Huertas said, it should mean revenue for the city.
The 911 dispatch center is the last unit still operating at the Roundhouse, according to the PPD. It’s slated to move out in July, giving it a much-needed larger operating space.
Other municipal agencies at the new tower will include the 6th Police District (covers Center City east), 9th Police District (covers Center City west), unified command center for police and fire communications, Medical Examiner’s Office and toxicology lab, PPD Homicide Unit, PPD Human Resources, and the PPD Command Center.
The city is currently occupying about 85% of the building, which is valued at $18 million, per the latest tax assessment. Some floors are still vacant, and it’s undecided how the space will be used, according to Andrew Brown of Talson Solutions, which is managing the renovation project.
A Thursday evening tour revealed a few noteworthy additions, including a hanging sculpture in the lobby made of more than 1,400 Philadelphia police badges entitled “Let Love Endure” by Donald Lipski.
Scroll down to check out more of the interior of the new Philadelphia Public Services Building.