By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — One week after the City Council approved the establishment of a $5.5 million budget for renovation and relocation costs for city hall a workshop was held to discuss the upcoming move.
All seven members of the council and several city administrators were in attendance at the meeting, which was held inside Mayor John O’Reilly Jr.’s conference room inside city hall April 8.
Neumann-Smith Principal Michael Kirk presented several drafts of the building layout, which will have two floors dedicated to city operations.
The first floor will have offices for the council; city clerk; assessor; and Finance, Housing, Public Works, Residential and Commercial Service departments.
The council chambers also will be on the first floor and will have removable seating for roughly 150 people, something O’Reilly said made the room multi-functional and more useful to the city than the current chambers, which is a theater setting with bolted-in seating.
“We can only use the current chambers for one or two events outside of meetings,” O’Reilly said. “In the new facility we can use the room for any number of events, which gives us flexibility. A lot of modern places use that design.”
The second floor will contain the mayor’s office as well as areas for Public Information, CDTV, Economic and Community Development, Legal and Management Informational Services departments.
CDTV and Human Resources currently works out of Henry Ford Centennial Library, but O’Reilly said that no decision has been made whether HR will be moved to the new city hall or will stay at the library.
“It’s still on the table,” O’Reilly said. “We are going to sit down with them and find out the best thing for everyone.”
He said the administration is going to have the same discussion with the Engineering Department.
Kirk said future projects involved with the site include adding a roundabout in the parking lot so people can be dropped off close to the entrance doors, and the addition of a connection road that leads behind HFCL.
The road will allow the city to connect the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 19th District Courthouse, Police Department and HFCL to the new city hall and will allow visitors an alternative method into the site than the front entrance off of Michigan Avenue.
Chief of Staff Mark Guido also told the audience the city is bidding for demolition work in the building, and after selecting a firm, plans to begin that work later this month and into May, and then begin to get the building ready for the relocation process, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 1.
The prep work will include painting, flooring and furniture installation as well as getting the different areas ready for their individual departments to move in.
“It’s an aggressive schedule, but we think we can do it,” Guido said.
The city plans to be completely moved in and to hand the keys to the current city hall over to Artspace Sept. 30 so it can begin to make modifications to its interior.
Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer, plans to renovate the complex to create 46 work and living spaces for artists as well as spaces for art studios, art organizations and creative businesses.
Artspace purchased the city hall complex for $1.65 million in July 2013 and expects to take 12 to 15 months to renovate with the first tenant moving in in October 2015.
As part of the sale contract, the exterior of city hall will not be changed in the renovation process.
The workshop was the second of several planned by the city administration to get public input into the 2014-15 fiscal year budget, which begins July 1.
The administration has held workshops on the budgets for retiree health care, the library, Department of Public Works and the Fire and Police departments.
This week will feature workshops on the 19th District Court, the city’s parking system and the complete 2014-15 proposed budget, including tax and water/sewer rates and outstanding debt.
The City Council is scheduled to adopt the proposed budget at a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 22 in the council chambers inside city hall.
A full list of workshops can be found on the city’s website, www.cityofdearborn.org.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)