My topic this week is the county’s offer to move City Hall into the county building.
Being present at the last city commission meeting, I wondered what exactly was going on with the county’s offer to allow the city to move into the county building downtown. The city commissioners stated they knew nothing about the county’s offer. One city commissioner wanted to bring up the subject to discuss it. The mayor disallowed the discussion because they had not received anything formally from the county.
The county ommissioner who made the offer is either throwing a suggestion up against the wall to see if it sticks, prematurely released confidential information, or made a strategic political move. I would think the county would at least discuss it first with the entity involved to see if it was going to be feasible before announcing the idea publicly.
The reporter asked if the Chinese were going to buy City Hall. Here again, the commissioners knew nothing. I think the reporter could have phrased the question differently. He should have asked if the Chinese stopped at the corner of 222 Meigs Street to check it out. The crown jewel and no one asked the Chinese to take at least a look when they were in town?
I don’t think renting space off the county will work. I was on the City Hall committee a few years back and there was a developer who wanted the city to rent from him. He had all the rental pricing worked out but when I sat down and worked out the increases in rent over the years, I found the city could afford to buy two city halls. Back then, City Hall was estimated to cost between $11 and $12 million dollars to obtain a new building. It is a bad investment to rent and have nothing to show for all the money that the city would have to pay out. It is much too risky to house two government entities in one building if something were to happen to the building or it would have to relocated for some reason.
If any developers are interested in City Hall, the red tape alone would discourage them, unless they are willing to wait years for all the transactions to be cleared away. It has taken the city 23 years just to make a decision to move City Hall, so can you imagine what it is going to be like trying to make plans to finally move once the decision is made? Each time the City Hall move is suggested, it is an absolute emergency to move because the condition of the building is so bad. But after 23 years of deliberating, the building is still standing strong.
I think if we wait long enough, the Historical Society might be able to close the deal once and for all and claim the building as a historical building, ending all the agony. At any rate, the whole process is distracting staff from progressing along with other projects that need to be taken care of in the city. Either we are going to move or we are not.
Until next week, I have to wonder where the Historical Society is when you really need them to save a building.