Brookhaven City Hall still shows all the signs of a new office: blank walls, clean desks and file cabinets yet to be filled.
Even though city officials have only been in the Ashford Dunwoody Road office building since December, council members already are on the hunt for a more permanent city hall.
The city signed a one-year lease for its temporary city hall, located in the city of Dunwoody. The lease will run out at the end of 2013.
At a recent work session, City Council heard from three real estate brokers vying to find the city its next home.
Their main message? Get moving.
“All of them made the point that we needed to start looking yesterday. Time is of the essence,” said Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams.
Councilman Joe Gebbia said the city will likely need to settle on a building by the fall to leave time to build out and furnish the space so it’s ready by the end of the year.
“The objective is probably to choose our building by October,” Gebbia said.
Brookhaven will likely be looking at a three- to five-year lease in an existing commercial building, Williams said.
“It’s a longer term [lease] than what we’re in now, but it’s somewhat open in terms of how long we would be in whatever this next space is,” Williams said. “We still think this next location is not our forever-after home.”
One of the challenges city officials will face as they search for a new City Hall is the limited commercial real estate in the city limits.
While the city was still taking shape, the Governor’s Commission on Brookhaven had a difficult time locating a building for city hall. The facility needed to be large enough to accommodate the city’s administrative staff, be furnished and ready to move in, and have a landlord willing to have a municipal government as a tenant.
“Some of the landlords didn’t want to have a government tenant in there,” Gebbia said.
So the best option for Brookhaven’s temporary city hall ended up being outside the city.
As the officials set out on their next search, finding a suitable space in Brookhaven will be a priority.
“The objective, obviously, is to be home based,” Gebbia said.
Williams said the city will not be losing money when it leaves its current location.
“The good thing about the space we’re at is we didn’t do any build-out and we don’t have any money invested in it, per se. It came furnished,” Williams said. “When we get ready to move, everybody packs up their laptops and moves to the next location.”
Williams said building a city hall could be a possibility too, though it’s less likely.
“I think all options are on the table. We would have to just really examine specifics of each one,” Williams said.