Public Safety Operations Center Coming to Fashion Square Mall

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 11:48 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - New life is on the way for part of the former JC Penney building inside Albemarle County’s Fashion Square Mall. Tuesday night, the Albemarle Planning Commission heard a proposal to utilize the vacant space.

“Albemarle County’s known for 15 or 20 years that there were acute space needs for the police department -- and growing,” Director of Facilities and Environmental Services Lance Stewart explained.

Albemarle wants to use the space for storage and offices for the county police department and fire rescue.

“One of the driving forces behind this is sort of a new function that the fire rescue department has taken on in recent years. It’s not well known that the county actually purchases all of the major apparatus for the volunteer stations, and it’s assumed responsibility for for maintenance of those,” Stewart said.

The new space will allow ACFRD to make repairs in a more central location, increasing efficiency. It will also add a garage that could service a full-size fire truck.

“Their facilities aren’t right for that. Sometimes they have to work outdoors, sometimes in winter. And if they need a part, just a small thing, it’s turn around, go back to central offices and go back. They’ve really needed this for a while,” Stewart said.

The center will take up only part of the former JC Penney space. The rest can be leased out to private businesses.

“Our intent is to identify a permanent space and a permanent home to serve these functions over time. But it’s a multi-million-dollar investment to do that. And we had acute needs that we felt we needed to address sooner rather than later,” Stewart said.

The commission unanimously voted in favor, saying the proposal aligns with the county’s comprehensive plan.

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