City Hall Renovation Project History and Future
Submitted by Sharon Hanson, Marshall City Administrator
Soon, the City Hall Renovation Project will begin construction. Below some of the answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the project:
What is the history of studying the needs for City Hall including building new versus renovating and were other sites considered?
The City of Marshall has spent considerable time studying, gathering information and deciding the future of the current Municipal Building, frequently referred to as City Hall. The first study analyzing the space occurred over twenty (20) years ago in 1998 when a Building Space Study was completed. At that time, it was noted that the entrance, bathrooms and elevator were not compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In 2006, a building assessment included a structural assessment which recommended suspending the use of the garage for vehicle storage and limiting the use of the space beneath the garage floor due to falling concrete. It also noted plumbing and heating systems to be replaced due to age and that security systems should be put into place.
In 2014 a study was completed to provide preliminary recommendations on the feasibility and economics of remodeling City Hall. Already noting deficiencies with the garage floor, it was further noted that the existing building provides adequate space and that the building was structurally sound. But based on the 1998 and 2006 studies, needed renovation and remodeling was extensive.
A 2014 City Hall Committee was formed that included selected City Councilmembers, staff and community members to continue discussions on City Hall needs including discussion on other locations if the city were to build new.
In 2017 Engan and Associates was selected as the architect for the City Hall renovation project based on a preliminary renovation cost of $4.5 million in comparison to a $5.8 million cost to build brand new.
In 2018 the City Council further reviewed other site locations including the former County Fair Foods site and the Schwan’s owned Mercantile building. Ranking the advantages and disadvantages of both sites in comparison to City Hall, the architect and City Council recommended that the current City Hall be renovated. Major advantages of staying at current City Hall site and renovating versus re-purposing another site was the importance of instilling civic pride and commitment to being downtown, avoiding the abandonment of a large building with major improvement needs while allowing other properties to remain on tax rolls with the potential to further develop economic tax base.
Why is now the right time to renovate City Hall?
As the saying goes, “time is money” and the years spent studying City Hall space has meant increased costs for the project. A $3 million-dollar project ten years ago has increased the project to over $4.5 million in today’s dollars. Further delay would have increased the cost of construction.
As most of the building systems in the current building are out of date and do not meet code, the cost to maintain and keep them running has increased. There is no enhanced security system to keep both City officials and the public safe. For these reasons, the city is at risk for operational failure resulting in city work disruptions or stoppage.
Just as important, City Hall serves as the “front door” to the community and is symbol of civic pride and economic vitality. The newly renovated City Hall will be in step with other revitalized downtown properties.
What are the major components of the project?
The first major component of the project will be to achieve compliance with ADA requirements. The project includes lowering the main floor to bring the main entrance to street level thereby eliminating the need for steps or a ramp entering City Hall. In addition, a new elevator will be placed near the main entrance.
Another part of the project is a focus on efficiency, reduced operating costs and security with new plumbing, heating, electrical and security systems.
Functionality and more efficient work environment are the other major component of this project. All city departments that work together regularly would be placed near each other in environments that are conducive to collaborative work. While most office spaces are smaller, public spaces such as meeting rooms are designed to accommodate more interaction with the public as well placement of meeting rooms near windows to allow natural light to cast throughout the building.
When will the project be completed?
Construction is expected to begin in January of 2020 with completion in the spring of 2021.
What is the cost to the taxpayer?
A base bid of $4.89 million was accepted by the City Council from Brennan Companies of Mankato and including alternates and non-construction related costs and contingency, the estimated construction cost would be $6.1 million. The city will issue bonds not to exceed $6.5 million to ensure that adequate funds are available to avoid lowering reserves below policy levels.
The project will be funded with existing revenue. Capacity gained by retirement of existing debt and utilization of the city’s Liquor Store revenue will provide payment for the bonds. No planned new or increased taxes will be needed for the project.