116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NORTH LIBERTY — Nearly a decade ago, the city of North Liberty bought land at Cherry and Main streets, near Heyn’s Ice Cream and Sugar Bottom Bikes, with the goal of building a civic campus in the heart of the downtown area.
For years, little to no progress was made until the city broke ground on the new $5.7 million North Liberty Police Department building about 18 months ago. That 16,000-square-foot building since has been completed, and the police department moved in last summer.
City officials then turned their attention to a new city hall, which would be built east of the police department.
For years, the city has been operating out of leased space at Quail Creek Circle off Highway 965, where city offices were divided between two buildings. In December, the City Council weighed buying and remodeling the current facility or constructing a new building. A new building won out, City Administrator Ryan Heiar said.
According to city documents, remodeling the current location would cost about $6.2 million, while a new building would cost only marginally more. The city currently leases its offices for $210,000 a year.
What’s happened since
Since deciding to go ahead with a new building, the City Council has looked at preliminary design and architecture plans. The council members viewed those plans favorably, Heiar said.
“So, now we are moving forward with the final design,” he said.
Originally, the project was estimated to cost $6.9 million, but that has changed.
“We are now looking at about $9 million for the project,” Heiar said. “A lot has changed in the last six months from the construction standpoint. Part of the increased cost is due to the materials and labor shortages we are seeing across the country. But we also decided to edit our plans a bit.”
In addition to the roughly 17,000-square-foot City Hall building, the city has opted to add a “pedestrian plaza” to the civic campus plan.
“We did a big community visioning plan about two years ago,” Heiar said. “And as part of that plan, the community asked for more publicly accessible gathering spaces, and so we decided to add a pretty sweet pedestrian plaza to our current plan.”
Plans for the plaza remain tentative, but Heiar said ideas so far include green and paved spaces, an area for farmers markets, an area for food trucks and space for live music.
“You know, I think we’re still coming up with ideas, and the sky’s the limit for this,” he said.
As a result of the materials shortages and new plans, plus a large road project now in progress in that Dubuque Street area, Heiar said the timeline for the next phase of the civic campus has been pushed back a bit.
“Our original thought process was we would go out for bid at the end of this year, with construction next year in 2022. However, it was not feasible to do logistically with the road project happening at the same time, so we’ll hopefully be going out for bid later in ’22 with construction happening in 2023, and then moving in in 2024.”
The next steps, Heiar said, would be the proceedings that will allow the City Council to eventually borrow money for this project. That includes public hearings and a resolution that would need to be approved to authorize borrowing.
Heiar said the plans for a new City Hall facility are long overdue.
“ … This new building will not only give us the space we need and allow us to put all our departments in one place — improving efficiency — it will also give us room to grow.”
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