NORTH LIBERTY — When the city of North Liberty bought land at Cherry and Main streets, the plan was to build a civic campus at the heart of the growing city within three to five years.
That was nearly a decade ago.
But now, design work will begin for a new city hall at that site with the idea of moving in the next few years. The city has been operating out of leased space at Quail Creek Circle off Highway 965. Last month, the City Council weighed buying and remodeling the current facility or building new. Building new won out, City Administrator Ryan Heiar said.
“When we looked at the cost difference, we thought it made sense to get really what we need, even though it was going to cost a little extra,” he said. “Location was key. We really wanted to be in the original part of the city.”
According to city documents, remodeling the current location would cost about $6.2 million. A new building would cost an estimated $6.9 million. The city is leasing its offices for $210,000.
North Liberty already is making use of the land purchased for the civic campus. This past summer, the police department moved into a new $5.7 million, 16,000-square-foot facility on the site after operating out of a former farmhouse converted into dental office for eight years. The new city hall would be built east of the police department.
Heiar said the police department was “in a bad situation” at its old location, but other city departments aren’t dealing with those kinds of space issues yet.
“My goal is not to get any department in a situation like that,” he said.
Heiar said the city will decide whether to build a single-story building with a larger footprint that could later add a second story or building a two-story building with a smaller footprint right away. Design work will be done by Shive-Hattery and is estimated to take about a year.
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With a new building, the city will have a “blank canvas” to design a safe and efficient work space meant to house government offices, Heiar said. It also will bring the city’s communications department under their roof after operating out of the rec center, he said.
When the civic center is completed, nearly all city offices will be located on Cherry and Front streets, Heiar said.
The fastest the building could go to bid would be December 2021 or January 2022, Heiar said. From there, the city could break ground in spring 2022 and potentially be in the new facility by early summer 2023.
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