by TaLeiza Calloway – firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the St. Joseph City Council will have an informal meeting to discuss the future of a new government/community center next week. The meeting is slated for 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at city hall. Council members will talk with members of the city’s facilities committee to determine the next step in the process.
“It will be an interactive meeting,” St. Joseph Mayor Rick Schultz said. “It’s open to the public.”
Last month, council member and facilities committee member Dale Wick said they are at the point where contractors need direction to move forward. Members of the city’s facilities committee held two open houses to see just what residents want in the new government/community center. To date, only a rough schematic drawing has been provided to show a possible layout for the building.
The existing city hall was built in 1979 as a bank building and converted into a city hall in 2000. Options considered in preliminary meetings about a new center include adding onto the existing building; leveling the site and building a two-story facility with the police department on the bottom or on the main level, with city offices on another level – something believed to allow for more parking; or leveling the site and finding parking externally and using the entire site for a one-level shop. Using space at the former Kennedy School was once an option but was eliminated due to cost.
A cost analysis showed the preliminary construction to remodel Kennedy could be about $9.2 million for a 30,000 square-foot building. About $3 million of that projection is land costs.
The building is currently occupied by Little Saints Academy and Headstart. It’s about 7,000 more square feet than the roughly 22,000 square feet planned initially for a new government/community center. In addition to the cost of remodeling, the age and the shape of the building were deterring factors, architects told officials previously.
The cost to remodel the existing city hall is estimated at $3.6 million; to construct a new building on the existing site would be about $4.3 million; and to construct a new building off-site would be about $5 million, said Murray Mack of Hagemeister Mack Architects.