City Hall: A vision in the making

City Hall: A vision in the making
There likely will still be changes made to the final design, but after hours of work by two citizen committees and an architectural firm, a vision representing the likely appearance of Vermillion's new city hall has been formed.

A schematic drawing was presented to the Vermillion City Council earlier this month by Owen Mamura of Cannon Moss Brygger & Associate Architecture.

"We're currently in the early phases of what we call the design development of the

project," Mamura said. "This is where we actually take the written program that was developed for the city and translate that into two-dimensional elements, including floor plans and drawings."

Mamura shared the drawings with the city council in a power point presentation. Sketches of the building's exterior show a handsome new brick building replacing Vermillion's current city hall. Ideas incorporated into the new building's design include high, arched windows, a clock tower over the front entrance, and a brick exterior that will blend in well with the historic buildings downtown.

"This is still a work in progress," Mamura said. "The design is by no means final, and the phase that we are currently in is called design

development. We need to develop the design further and get into the structural, mechanical and electrical systems."

The new city hall is proposed to be constructed in the center of a half-block area that is currently the site of the current city hall.

Offices will need to be temporarily moved

to other locations while the current city hall,

and a number of smaller homes nearby that were recently purchased by the city, are demolished to make room.

The main parking lot, a space large enough for 22 vehicles, and the public entrance of the new city hall will be on the west side of the building. The east side will feature parking for city vehicles, staff and firemen.

"There is a drop box area located on the south end of the west parking lot," Mamura said.

a plaza area along a west section of the building, that may also include some wall murals if the city desires them.

The architects are proposing that Vermillion construct a three-level building for its city hall. "In the case of the main level, you enter through a covered walkway into a vestibule, and then into a main lobby." The total area of the main floor is approximately 14,775 square feet.

The central part of the structure, which Mamura refers to as the major core area of the building, will contain an elevator and stairs to allow residents to go upstairs to the council chambers on the third floor.

Customer service functions will be located around the central core area on the main floor. The finance department and its offices will be located nearby. The architect proposes to construct office space for city administration, engineering, code enforcement, parks and

recreation, and other city offices along the north side of the common area on the main floor.

"A big component of the main level area is fire truck bays located to the east," Mamura said. He designed enough space to house three fire trucks, and a storage area for needed equipment.

The upper level will house the city council meeting chambers, which will include a large city council table and seating for 50 to 100 people. Other facilities on the upper level, all designed for use by

the city council, include a private council room, a small conference room, a large conference room, a council office and a storage area.

The upper level, with a total area of 6,900 square feet, will also house audio-visual equipment to be used by the council, and public restrooms.

The 9,000 square foot lower level of the building is designed to house a phone room, computer room, mechanical equipment room, and an employee break area. "The lower level was developed with some space and open storage areas that can be used for future storage areas," Mamura said. "The fire bays on the main floor are also designed to be converted to office space in the future should that space ever be vacated."

Mamura said his firm kept Vermillion's wishes in mind and formulated a modern structure with a traditional design. The proposal he showed to city council features two brick colors, traditional detailing with cornices, and arched windows.

He said a very early estimate of the demolishing the existing city hall, developing the site for the new city hall, and construction of the new building will likely exceed $4.3 million. That cost does not include furnishings inside the new building, and may change as the design process progresses.

City Manager John Prescott said efforts will be made to the educate the public about the proposed building project. City officials have

shared Mamura's information at meetings of the Vermillion Rotary Club and the Vermillion Lions Club this week. The building's design will also be discussed at a� public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, March 1 at the William J. Radigan Fire Station meeting room.

If all goes well, Prescott said, the construction document phase of the project would be completed sometime between March and June, with a bidding negotiation process to be held between mid-June and mid-July.

By late summer, contracts could be signed, with construction starting sometime in August.

"It's about an 18-month project to clear out the current building, demolish the current site and remove the houses, and to construct the

new building," he said.

Prescott said the final total cost of the building won't be known for certain until its plans are more further developed. The city is proposing to pay for the project with a sales tax revenue bond. "That

is where we would pledge a portion of our second penny sales tax receipts to basically 'pay the mortgage on our house' if you will. This is roughly a 15-year sales tax revenue bond, with payments of about $300,000 to $350,000 a year."

The city has already built a budget reserve of approximately $1.7 million for this project. "That reserve combined with the bond is what we're looking at to raise approximately $4.3 million," Prescott said.

The city will be able to pay for the new city hall building and still have second penny sale tax funds remaining each year, he added. "We won't be tapping those funds out. We have approximately $1.2 to $1.3 million a year that comes into that fund."

Mayor Dan Christopherson said he hopes citizens of the future will conclude that present-day Vermillion citizens showed great insight and an ability to do great things to preserve our heritage and invest in ourselves by designing and the constructing the new city hall.

"This will be a legacy project for our sesquicentennial which is our 150th birthday in 2009," he said. "It's hoped that we can have the ribbon cutting for the building sometime early in 2009."

The city likely will take formal action sometime next month calling on city staff to prepare documentation for financing.

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