The Public Safety Operations Center is coming to Fashion Square Mall

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – New life is on the way for part of the former JC Penney building inside Albemarle County’s trendy Square Mall. On Tuesday evening, the Albemarle Planning Commission heard a proposal to utilize the vacant space.

“Albemarle Township has known for 15 or 20 years that it had an acute need for police department space — and growing,” explained Facilities and Environmental Services Director Lance Stewart.

Albemarle wants to use the space for storage and offices for the county’s police department and fire rescue.

“One of the driving forces behind this is a new type of function that the fire rescue department has taken on in recent years. It’s not well known that the county actually buys all the major equipment for the volunteer stations and takes responsibility for their maintenance,” Stewart said.

The new space will allow ACFRD to make repairs in a more central location, increasing efficiency. It will also add a garage that can service a full-size fire truck.

“Their facilities are not suitable for this. Sometimes they have to work outside, sometimes in winter. And if they need a part, just a little thing, it’s to go back, go back to headquarters and come back. They’ve really needed this for a while,” Stewart said.

The center will occupy only a portion of the former JC Penney’s space. The rest can be leased to private businesses.

“Our goal is to identify a permanent space and a permanent home to serve these functions over time. But it is a multi-million dollar investment to do so. And we had acute needs that we felt we needed to address sooner rather than later,” Stewart said.

The commission voted unanimously in favor, saying the proposal is consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan.

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