City Hall Renovation Begins
"We're very excited to begin this first phase of what will actually be a three phase project," assistant city manager Tony St. Romaine said. "I think it was outdated and inefficient."
City leaders said this is the first step to creating better offices for the city administration.
Columbia voters have turned down expansion plans twice in the past 20 years, but St. Romaine said that the city council and mayor felt it was time to do something. The total cost of the project is $22 million.
The city will pay for the plan with rent money now used to house other city departments.
Currently city offices are being housed in downtown rental spaces with a total cost of $400,000 a year, according to a report done in March. Predicted increases in that amount were brought up at City Council meeting last year, helping to spur action on the part of the city.
"By 2025 the City would be spending approximately $1.3 million a year in external rent to satisfy the space needs deficit," said St. Romaine last August.
"We think it makes sense to rent from ourselves so to speak, rather than pay rent for a number of years at the end of which we having nothing to show for," said Bob Roper of the Public Buildings Committee in March.
Today, demolition of part of the southwest corner of the Daniel Boone building began to make room for the future renovations. Right now, the site looks like a pile of rubble, but city leaders say this trash is the first step to Columbia's newest treasure.
"It would have been easier to demolish this building and build a new structure," St. Romaine said. "But the city does care about its historic buildings."
The entire city hall project is scheduled for completion in 2010.