A $20 million, federally funded homeland security headquarters for Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley is headed for South Philadelphia, city officials said Wednesday as they sought City Council approval to lease the old U.S. Army's Quartermaster Corps complex off Oregon Avenue.
The proposed Delaware Valley Intelligence Center would house Philadelphia Police Department's criminal intelligence and homeland security units, with between 40 and 50 officers, said Everett Gillison, Philadelphia's deputy mayor for public safety.
The facility would also serve as a regional "fusion center" favored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Gillison said, with a least one federal intelligence analyst to coordinate street-level intelligence nationally and among 11 counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
It also would become the headquarters for the Southeast Pennsylvania Regional Task Force, the five-county panel of emergency response officials that coordinates antiterrorism and disaster efforts.
Edward J. Atkins, chairman of the Southeast Pennsylvania Regional Task Force, visited Council's Committee on Public Property and Public Works Wednesday as proof of the unity of city-county support for the proposal, to which the Task Force has already committed $4.7 million to help build and another $1 million to operate. Adkins is the director of emergency services of Chester County.
"This is a unique opportunity for Philadelphia to be the headquarters for the center that's going to protect the counties," Councilman James F. Kenney said.
No Task Force staff would work out of the new center, at least not at first, Gillison said.
Gillison said the city hoped to begin retrofitting the former Quartermaster Corps at 2800 South 20th Street - which once produced uniforms and other supplies for the Army - this summer. $11 million in federal funding is currently in place, from homeland security, port security and transit, Gillison said, enough for the first phase of the project to begin in 2011. The surrounding communities of Girard Estates and Broad Street West support the project.
"I guess having a homeland security facility in your neighborhood makes you feel pretty safe," said Councilman Darrell L. Clarke.
The committee unanimously approved the measure, which authorizes the Nutter administration to sign a lease with the private property owners. The full Council would have to approve it June 17 for work to begin this summer.