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Allentown building might house police station

| Friday, Nov. 7, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

Pittsburgh City Council on Thursday tentatively approved renovating an Allentown building that would become a new police station.

The building on Warrington Avenue is owned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and once served as a youth hostel. If council approves the renovation plan in a final vote Tuesday, the city will own the building.

The $1.8 million cost of the renovation isn't part of the legislation, meaning the price tag could rise, said Councilman Bruce Kraus.

The new Zone 3 station would replace a South Side precinct in disrepair. A state Department of Labor and Industry investigation found it had cockroaches, leaky pipes and unacceptable levels of lead residue in the basement, which once housed a firing range.

Mike Gable, deputy director of Public Works, said those problems are being fixed so the station can be used until the new one is ready. Officers could move by April, police bureau manager John Warren told council.

"This is going to be the best police station in the city," Warren said. "We will actually be able to interact with the community in that facility."

Warren said the new station will have one of three Nautilus-equipped exercise facilities in the city. A public conference room will be equipped with a flat-screen television.

City Council also gave its final approval to legislation introduced by Kraus that would raise fines on open-container violations. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who is on paternity leave for another week or so, could still veto it.

First-time offenders would face a fine of $200, up from $50. A second offense would cost up to $300, up from $100. Additional violations could carry a maximum fine of $500.

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