A $20 million federally funded homeland security headquarters for Philadelphia and the region is headed for South Philadelphia, city officials said Wednesday as they sought City Council approval to lease the old Army Quartermaster Corps complex off Oregon Avenue.
The proposed Delaware Valley Intelligence Center would house the 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 at 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 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 to show the unity of support for the proposal. The task force has committed $4.7 million to help build the center and an additional $1 million to operate it. Atkins is the director of emergency services for 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.
Gillison said the city hoped to begin retrofitting the site at 2800 S. 20th St. - which once produced uniforms and other supplies for the Army - this summer. A total of $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, said representatives from the two community groups.
"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.