Waco PD headquarters getting safety, efficiency upgrade

The windows at the ten-story building are being replaced for the first time ever
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 1:55 AM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - One of the tallest buildings in Waco is getting a major upgrade.

A year from now, the ten-story Waco Police Department tower will look shiny and new...but it’s not without growing pains.

“Beauty is pain,” said Waco PD spokesperson Cierra Shipley.

And in this case: a window pane.

For the first time since it was built more than 50 years ago, the windows are being replaced at 3115 Pine Ave.

“The glazing was original to the building, the gaskets were original to the building and it just needed a facelift, it needed an upgrade,” said Derrick Oltmann, Senior Facilities Project Manager for the City of Waco.

The City of Waco bought the old Hillcrest Medical Center building in 2011 and did a major renovation the next year.

“At the time, we didn’t have the ability to replace the curtain wall and everything on the building, but we do have that opportunity now,” said Oltmann.

The project has a budget of $3.7 million.

More than 41,200 square feet of glass will be replaced in 1,460 panels, Oltmann said.

“We’re taking advantage of a lot of modern building materials that we have available to us now to, hopefully, improve some of the building efficiency as well as the aesthetic of the building,” said Oltmann. “One of the things that we are taking advantage of now are double-paned, low-e insulated glass, which, before, it was just single-paned glass, so it wasn’t efficient and the coatings on it were starting to fail, and you could see it didn’t look great because it was pretty old.”

Certain floors will be getting protective glass, he said, and every floor should see improvements in heating and cooling.

“Over time it just loses efficiency and starts creating more heating and cooling needs for the building, so replacing the windows, similarly to replacing the windows on your house, just extends the lifespan and improves the efficiency of the building,” said Oltmann. “There are several floors that will be getting a certain type of glass in them which will provide some protection for certain floors of the property.”

The project got underway in late summer.

Shipley, who works in the building, admits it’s been noisy but says the transformation has been a welcome sight.

“You don’t’ even really notice that there needed to be a change until the new windows started being put in place—we’re like ‘wow that’s a big difference,’” said Shipley. “It’s cool to see the before and after product, especially when you’re driving up to the tower, and from what I’ve noticed, when the windows come out, they get that floor done pretty quickly.”

In addition to noise, the hundreds of Waco PD employees inside the building have been dealing with temporary window coverings while their floor gets replaced--some of which were ripped off in recent rains, exposing offices to the elements.

“At the end of the day we are taking windows out of a building, so there’s always the possibility of getting some wind or some rain into the structure, but we’re doing what we can to try to make sure it’s closed up and not as impactful to the building occupants,” said Oltmann.

Although there’s been some inconveniences, including a torn-up and taped-off front lawn, officials say it will be well worth it in the end.

“There’s not a single moment where there is no one inside of this tower, and so just to have a nicer, better, safer working environment for the employees inside is just why we want to see the change in the windows,” said Shipley. “It’s really exciting to get them replaced, it’s important to take care of our buildings and the employees inside of them.”

City officials say the tower is a symbol of leadership’s priorities.

“It really sets a good visual example for our city staff and our council’s commitment to improving the infrastructure of the city,” said Oltmann. “I think it’s a great, large thing that people can drive by and they can see and they can see that ‘hey, you know what, our council cares and our city staff really are doing the best they can to take care of things.’”

If the weather cooperates, the window replacement project should be complete in late summer 2023.

“Those buildings--they’re structures, but a lot of times they’re tied to memories,” said Oltmann. “It’s important to remember the heritage.”