After years of planning, a groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for a new Little Rock Police substation on 12th Street.
City and community leaders joined Little Rock Police officials to formally begin work on the $11.9 million project.
The 12th Street Station will fill an entire city block between Pine and Cedar Streets and is a key part of efforts to revitalize the area.
Denise Johnson owns a beauty shop across the street from where it will be built.
“32 years ago I started my business in this community. During that time I have seen this area decay and an increase in crime. Trust me when I tell you that keeping my business at this location took some degree of risk due to the unfortunate neglect that this community has suffered for many years,” Johnson said. “However, I considered it as an investment and today with the groundbreaking of this building, the reality is that my investment was worthwhile.”
Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas says the two story building, with more than 44,000 square feet of office space, will allow the department to move some operations from their deteriorating headquarters downtown.
“It takes the department into the future. We replace offices and forensic labs that are 50 years old with state of the art equipment in an area that we want a presence. And we’re really looking forward to the opportunity to get working and operating out of this facility and see how it impacts the rest of the neighborhood,” Thomas said.
The new police station is being built just a few blocks from where an officer last week shot and killed a suspect who allegedly pulled a gun after a traffic stop. Hundreds of residents then took to the streets, some holding signs objecting to police violence.
Chief Thomas says he hopes having a bigger presence in the neighborhood will help build a better relationship between the department and the community.
Work is expected to be completed on the new station in about a year.