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A disputed proposal to build a new station for the 22nd Police District in North Philadelphia has cleared a key hurdle.
On Wednesday, the Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the use variances needed to construct the North Central Public Safety Building near Strawberry Mansion.
The $32.5 million project would sit on Diamond Street and include the new police station and a Police Athletic League (PAL) Center with an indoor basketball court and rooms for after-school study and recreation. There are also provisions for building a community and outdoor recreation space.
The existing station for the 22nd Police District, located less than a mile away on North 17th Street, is considered one of the most rundown in the Philadelphia Police Department. City officials argue the new police station, a priority for former Council President Darrell Clarke, will promote community safety and improve police response times because of its central location.
The 22nd District is one of the city’s busiest, and runs from 10th Street to 33rd Street and from Poplar Street to Lehigh Avenue.
The city needed zoning approvals for the project because officials want to use a pair of adjacent lots for parking and a fueling station.
A spokesperson with the Philadelphia Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The proposal was widely supported by the registered community organization for the area, but it got a more mixed reaction from residents during a ZBA hearing held right before the holidays.
While some residents called the project a “great resource” for the community, others panned the proposal, saying a modern public safety complex should not be built within the Diamond Street Historic District. Established in 1986, the roughly mile-long district runs between Broad and Van Pelt Streets and features architecturally significant rowhomes and churches dating back to the late 19th Century.