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ST. PAUL-The city’s new Department of Safety and Inspections is searching for 30,000 sf of office where it can consolidate its two offices, preferably on one floor, in the Downtown or the suburbs. Twelve locations have been proposed in the answer to a request for proposal, and the city council will hear a recommendation by March 6, department director Bob Kessler tells GlobeSt.com.

He says he can’t reveal the names of the companies or buildings suggested, but confirmed that a few of the companies represent properties such as Metro Square, Wells Fargo Place and Hillcrest Center. The department currently pays $425,000 annually for about 30,000 sf at two Downtown buildings, including its three-year, 15,000-sf lease for its main offices at the 12-story Commerce Building at 8 E. Fourth St.

The department is being formed from the consolidation of the Office of Licensing, Fire Inspection, Code and Enforcement and a new division of Information and Complaints. “We rely on the public to let us know where the problems are, we get about 2,000 complaints a month, and can track them by computer to find out how they’re being attended,” Kessler says.

The former Office of Licensing department transferred to the Commerce Building in 2004 from the Lowry Professional Building, in what was a controversial move back then, Kessler says. “We’ve always been either in City Hall or across the street,” he says. “The move away from the Downtown would be difficult. Our current building is being converted to affordable housing, we have to be out by November, hopefully sooner than later. We’re torn between staying Downtown, or going outside, where parking would be more plentiful.”

He says the majority of the proposals are for Downtown buildings. The department wants to get space that could be spread across just one floor, Kessler says. “We’re bringing together these four separate units and we want to integrate them, have them physically adjacent so they can communicate better,” he says.

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