Concept drawings of a potential new City Hall building for the City and Borough of Juneau show what a new building atop the downtown transit center parking garage might look like. The city is considering several options for a new City Hall, and on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, will take public testimony on proposals. (Screenshot / City and Borough of Juneau)

Have thoughts on a new City Hall? Your chance to weigh in is coming up

City weighing four options for facility

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly will take public testimony this Wednesday, Jan. 26, on plans for a new City Hall.

The current building is 70 years old and in need of renovation, according to CBJ Engineering and Public Works Director Katie Koester, and revamping the building is one of the city’s options.

But officials are also weighing three other options, two of which would require construction.

The city is currently considering four options for a new City Hall; renovating the current City Hall; constructing a building on top of the Downtown Transit Center parking garage; a new building at the city-owned lot at 450 Whittier Street and renovating and leasing the old Walmart building in Lemon Creek.

At a CBJ Assembly Public Works Committee meeting Monday, Koester said even with a price tag of roughly $30 million, the transit center proposal was one of the cheaper options before the Assembly.

[Weekend weather sets records, causes power disruptions]

According to documents from the Public Works Department, renovating the current City Hall building would cost roughly $11.2 million and would extend the life of the building by another 25 years. But the city doesn’t own the property and would have to continue leasing the building and other office space the city currently leases in several buildings downtown.

A City Hall atop the downtown parking garage would come with an estimated construction cost of $32.8 million, documents show. A new building on Whittier Street would cost $33.5 million for new construction and an additional $4 million for underground parking. The most expensive option would be renovating the Walmart building, coming in at a cost of $52.6 million.

Factors taken into consideration by the city include availability of parking, public access, the lifespan of the site and both construction and operating costs.

According to a November 2021, survey by the McKinley Research Group, the most popular option among respondents was renovating the former Walmart building. Respondents placed a high priority on parking availability and public access, according to the survey. Survey results show that 74% of respondents were supportive of a new City Hall, with 39% saying they were very supportive and 35% supportive.

A total of 18% of respondents were opposed to the plan, with 10% saying they were very opposed and 8% opposed. Nine percent of respondents said they didn’t know, according to the survey.

Koester told committee members the Walmart building was centrally located, which was a priority in considering locations.

“Parking would never be an issue,” Koester said. “But it really is twice the square footage that City Hall needs.”

Following Wednesday’s meeting the Assembly would be presented with a staff report detailing public feedback and prioritizing two sites, Koester said.

According to Koester, the city would introduce a ballot initiative in July for a bond package to appear on the fall ballot. More information about the new City Hall project can be found at the CBJ Public Works Department Website.

The public forum is scheduled for Jan. 26, from 6-7:30 p.m. and can be attend via Zoom or telephone.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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