Vancouver police are closing their antiquated office in the Downtown Eastside and will move into VANOC’s soon-to-be vacated digs in East Vancouver by next spring, the department announced yesterday.

A 72-officer beat enforcement team, however, will continue to work out of a building in the Downtown Eastside to maintain a visible police presence in the troubled neighbourhood.

Chief Const. Jim Chu said a decision in the 1990s to remove operational staff from the neighbourhood contributed to a decline in the area. “The presence of beat officers in the neighbourhood is very important,” he said.

The city and the federal government have earmarked $15 million for the relocation, which will affect about 700 staff.

The building at 312 Main St. was built in 1954 and houses 540 staff. Chu said the facility is old and expensive to maintain.

A second police facility on Eighth Avenue will also close.

Funding will pay for moving and furniture as well as renovations like locker rooms and forensic labs at the VANOC buildings — a tower and low-rise building located at 3585 Gravely St., one block west of Boundary Road.