University and city officials broke ground Thursday on the site of the Rose Center, which will house the new station for the Yale Police Department and a community center.

The plot, located on Ashmun Street behind Swing Space, will be the site of a 34,000 square foot building, with 5,000 to 6,000 square feet devoted to the Dixwell-Yale University Learning Center, said William Rawn ’65, the project’s architect. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. joined University President Richard Levin, Yale police Chief James Perrotti and other top officials at the ceremony.

“It really is delightful to formally begin construction on the home that you deserve,” Levin said to the officers assembled. “We’ve had — unfortunately over the years — more crisis than any of us would want, but the Yale police are always on the spot.”

The Yale police station is currently located at 98-100 Sachem St. Perrotti said police have outgrown the current station and he is proud work has begun on a new facility.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Perrotti said. “Finally we will have the kind of quarters that will support us in our work.”

Rawn, an architect with the Boston-based William Rawn Associated Architects, said the building is designed to have enormous glass faces along the Ashmun and Lock Street sides. The new police communications room, which will be lit and staffed 24 hours a day, has a large window running the length of the room and is designed to create a sense of safety for pedestrians walking past the station late at night.

“It’s intended to be a beacon,” he said.

Plans for the Dixwell-Yale University Learning Center include a large meeting room for neighborhood groups, 16 computer stations, a kitchen, and storage space for athletic equipment for the city park located across the street.

DeStefano said the event was symbolic of increasing cooperation between Yale and the city.

“If you look at this as a groundbreaking of a police facility, community center, I think you’re missing the point,” he said. “The real ground that his been broken is that this is an outcome that would have been inconceivable 15 years ago.”

Rawn said University officials were very strict about the budget for the building. The University is expected to have a $30 million budget shortfall this fiscal year.

“Every square foot has been analyzed to wring out even the slightest unnecessary cost,” Rawn said. “This should be a very efficient, non-luxurious space.”

Helen Powell, who lives across the street from the site at 46 Bristol St., attended the ceremony and said she is looking forward to the new station.

“It would be a blessing to have police here to work with us,” Powell said.

The building is named after Deborah Rose ’72 GRD ’89, a named contributor and one of the original planners of the building.

University Secretary Linda Lorimer said the ribbon-cutting for the Rose Center is expected to take place in 14 to 15 months.

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