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City Council, police chief to talk $8M purchase of Casper Business Center on Wednesday afternoon

The Casper City Council authorized the purchase of the Casper Business Center during a special meeting in late April. (Brendan LaChance, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — City staff and members of the Casper City Council will talk about the city’s $8 million purchase of the Casper Business Center during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The press conference will be held at 3:30 p.m. at Fire Station 1, located at 200 W. First St. The station is catty-cornered from the Casper Business Center at 123 W. First St.

Police Chief Keith McPheeters, Mayor Ray Pacheco and other city officials will attend the press conference to discuss the purchase of the building and the city’s plans to convert it into a new police headquarters.

The driving factors in the city’s interest in the Casper Business Center were its central location and its potential to become the new home of police headquarters, dispatch, municipal court and other city services at a more affordable cost than constructing a brand-new building, according to City Manager Carter Napier.

The city is utilizing American Rescue Plan Act dollars for the purchase after the city council authorized the purchase at a special meeting on Tuesday, April 26. The purchase includes the covered parking garage adjacent to the Casper Business Center. A lack of covered parking space for police vehicles was one of the concerns McPheeters pointed to during a tour of the police department’s space at the aging Hall of Justice in February. The city’s move to the Casper Business Center will free up space for the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office and will also allow the city to stop paying a lease to the county once the police department is out.

The city is aware the Casper Business Center, constructed in 1981, has some asbestos, but does not think abatement costs will be exorbitant. While more money will be needed to adapt the building to the city’s needs, the overall investment is expected to be significantly less than the roughly $50 million cost to build a brand-new police headquarters, according to Napier. The city is hoping to get at least 40 years out of the Casper Business Center.

The city is purchasing the building from Wyoming Financial Properties (WERCS Group), which also owns other commercial real estate around town. Tenants at the Casper Business Center, which itself has been well below full occupancy “for quite some time,” have been offered opportunities to move into space at the Energy One building and other properties, according to Kyle Ridgeway, chief operating officer for WERCS Group.

The city council’s decision to authorize the purchase of the Casper Business Center came about two weeks after the opening of the new Thyra Thomson State Office Building in the Old Yellowstone District. The opening of that state building means a variety of state agencies are moving out of other commercial space around Casper, such as the Energy One building.

If weather is bad on Wednesday afternoon, the press conference will move to the lobby of the Casper Business Center, according to the police department. While a quorum of council members will be present at the conference, no formal action will be taken, according to the city.