Developer outlines plans for new City Hall

April 9, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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The city is working with a developer to possibly build a new City Hall that could include housing and other amenities.

A representative from Lorig and Associates presented two possible options at a March 10 special meeting of the City Council.

Tom Fitzsimmons, Lorig’s chief operating officer, said both sites are near the present City Hall. One involves developing a two-acre property occupied by Rainier Moving and Storage on 132nd Place Southeast. Lorig is also discussing a possible mixed-used development project with the Joshua Green Co., the property owner and manager for the Quality Food Center site.

The clock is ticking for the city, because the lease at City Hall expires Dec. 31, 2011. City officials are weighing the benefits and risks of owning versus renewing the lease. A new City Hall could cost anywhere from $7 million to $10 million.

“I’m going to feel your pulse,” Fitzsimmons said about gauging support from the City Council.

The project could also include a contract post office, something city leaders have long sought.

The housing component of the multi-use development would involve an apartment complex, as opposed to condominiums.

“I’m not sure if the project could get financed if it was condos,” Fitzsimmons said. “It’s not a good time to get financing.”

A mixed-used development in downtown could act as a catalyst for future development, he said. 

“All the cities that had good things happen to them downtown made an investment, and they left a legacy for future generations,” he said.

Councilman Steve Buri said the Rainier Moving and Storage site would not be an ideal site for a new City Hall and questioned whether the time is right to move forward with such a project.

Mayor Ben Varon said the environment for the project is ripe and that some officials are interested in moving ahead.

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