The Lehigh Police Department is in the planning stages of moving its headquarters out of Johnson Hall and relocating their station to the area across from the Rauch Business Center, where the empty Windish Hall is currently located. Windish Hall was once a venue for private events, but has been vacant since Lehigh purchased it about five years ago.
Julia Parker, the campus architect, said if the plans are approved, the vacant building will be demolished around mid-July, and the construction of the new, 12,000-square-foot building will begin shortly after in August or September.
Plans for this new building are being developed by the Philadelphia-based architectural firm, Atkin Olshin Schade Architects. The demolition costs are expected to be around $140,000.
“Windish Hall is in pretty tough condition,” Parker said, “and its uneven floor heights make it very unsuitable for a new police station.”
Though their plans are still awaiting approval, the LUPD is hoping for a move-in date of February 2016.
LUPD chief Ed Shupp said this move is necessary due to the growing size of the police force and staff. Additionally, this new location, along with the sub-station at Campus Square, will allow for easier access to off-campus students.
This move will not affect the LUPD’s jurisdiction. They will continue to patrol their usual areas both on and off campus. Currently, the jurisdictions of the LUPD and the Bethlehem Police Department overlap in some areas where students reside. However, the move to the new building will not cause any type of expansion.
Shupp also said the response time of the LUPD will likely be improved as a result of the relocation.
“It will probably enhance our response time because we’ll have all of our resources and needs in one location,” Shupp said.
The new facility will only house the police department, unlike Johnson Hall, which currently houses the Police Department as well as the health center and counseling and psychological services.
The relocation of the police department still needs to be approved before final costs are confirmed, but project costs are estimated to range anywhere from $4.4-$4.7 million.
Plans for the future use of Johnson Hall are still uncertain, but a few options are being considered.
“One proposal is to relocate Counseling Services from the fourth floor,” Julia Parker said, “but we’ve also looked at the option of using the space for other various offices.”