Stop the Demolition

Remodel our neglected City Hall for less than $15 million and you get:

• The entire 75,000 square foot structure refurbished, spruced up and brought up to modern earthquake and insulation standards.

• The iconic round City Council Chambers and art work saved.

• Some 35,000 square feet of office space ready for move-in, with another approximately 40,000 square feet of shell space available for future development as city offices.

• A phase-out of the $1.2 million a year the city currently pays to rent office space scattered around town, once city departments move back into the refurbished City Hall.

• 125 parking spaces under the building saved.

• The additional 40,000 square feet finished in the future for a cost of $8 million, for a total of $23 million for a completely redone City Hall.

Spend $15 million to tear it down and build a new building, and you get:

• A small ceremonial building, not really a “new City Hall,” on one corner of the current square block, housing only council chambers and offices for the mayor, council and city manager.

• The need for a new city office building next door at an additional cost of at least $25 million or more in taxpayer money to house the rest of city offices. City officials aren’t talking much about this – for now.

All of which means that you get a completely redone 75.000 square foot City Hall for $23 million, vs. a total cost of at least $40 million for two new buildings of the same total square footage.

Savings: At least $17 million!

City Hall was once a beautiful building – you need only to look at photos of when it was completed in 1964 to understand that. If it seems ugly now it’s because of years of official neglect. Deferred maintenance has become no maintenance. It didn’t have to be that way.

Its award-winning design by local architects Stafford, Morin & Longwood is an outstanding example of mid-20th century modern architecture. It is an historic survivor in a town that’s torn down too much of its history.   The building is eligible for the National Historic Building Registry — which the city doesn’t want, willfully ignoring state historic preservation law.

Rather than destroying this public asset immediately, why not pause and consider all of the above?  Even if the building will not be saved as a City Hall, it has potential millions-of-dollars in value to the city for private redevelopment as retail/ office/ market space.

If you agree this is no time to rush to demolition, contact Mayor Kitty Piercy and council members at 682-5010 or email Do it now! — Don Bishoff