City Council members are looking into possibilities for a new City Hall.
During a recent retreat, staff and council members discussed the various aspects of a future civic facility including primary needs, location, funding options and a timetable for building it.
Additionally, a number of council members toured the Suwannee City Hall and Alpharetta City Hall to get an idea of what other municipalities had created. “Alpharetta City Hall has fixed seating,” Councilman Terry Nall said. “Suwannee had folding chairs that weren’t as comfortable, but could be stacked and moved to create open space.”
During the retreat, council members and city staffers agreed that there are a few areas in the city appropriate for redevelopment, and that a new City Hall and police headquarters could anchor and potentially stimulate private development activities.
“City Hall can be iconic for a town center,” Nall said. “It can also be a catalyst for economic development. It can also be very practical and functional. Being by I-285 can at least be two of those. It would be a catalyst and practical and functional.”
Nall said the city owns two buildings in the Georgetown area and that their leases end at about the same time, a few years after the city’s current City Hall lease ends in 2019. “I think there is a consensus that having it close to I-285 makes sense,” Nall said.
Nall said city officials also had the idea of a future City Hall in mind when they bought land on Pernoshal Road that is being developed as a park. “It adds a warmth to City Hall to have a park there, making it a public space instead of just office buildings,” he said.
Although the mayor and council members haven’t committed to the idea of developing and designing their own city building, Nall said he could see the benefit of doing so.
“The space we’re in reflects a start-up city, and we’ve taken on and provided more services now, so the city is not the start-up city we once were,” Nall said. “More than that, we don’t control the building. We don’t own it, and the owner of the building could do something completely different at the end of the lease. They could kick us out!”
Mayor Mike Davis agreed that a leased space is not in the city’s best interests over the long term.
“As mayor, I’d like to see a new City Hall and police headquarters established in an easily accessed, convenient location in the city,” Davis said. “I’m also hopeful the new City Hall would promote growth or redevelopment around it, creating a public asset people would want to visit or frequent without even having city businesses to conduct.”
Davis said he and council members liked some of what they saw in Suwannee and Alpharetta, but they also saw things they’d want to do a bit differently.
“One thing for certain is we’ll work together with the community on the creation of any civic facility to make sure it meets their needs as well as council, police and city staff needs,” Davis said.
City officials will have to decide, for instance, whether the courts and police should be housed in the same building, as they are now. “I personally favor having it all in one place,” Nall said.