A consultant told the Lexington council Tuesday that the 109,963-square-foot Lexington Public Library on Main Street is too small to be the new home for city hall.
CGL RicciGreene consultants told the Urban County Council during a work session that it could add an addition to the front of the library, build a standalone city hall at Phoenix Park or try to remodel the county clerk’s and police station office buildings in that same block.
All of those options are pricey, so the city will likely look elsewhere for a new city hall, city officials said.
“The project at the library is too expensive” said Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray. “We are looking for other options.”
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To add to the front of the five-story library and remodel the building would cost between $96 million and $100 million, according to preliminary numbers. To reconfigure and re-utilize the county clerk’s office and police station would cost between $104 million and $108 million, the report found.
Building an eight-floor new city hall building at Triangle Park would cost between $91 million and $96 million, the report found. Those numbers include construction and other costs. Those are only preliminary numbers.
“The library does not offer the city any fiscal benefit,” said April Pottorff, principal at CGL RicciGreene, which conducted the study. “It’s cheaper to build a new building than it is to buy the library.”
The city has been exploring how to consolidate its operations and find a new city hall on and off for decades. The city’s government center is currently in the old Lafayette Hotel. Maintenance costs for the building, completed in 1918, continue to climb. The cramped former hotel also can’t hold all of the city’s employees. The city’s employees are in five different downtown buildings, including the government center in the former hotel building.
Pottorff told the council that keeping the five outdated buildings would cost the city about $81.6 million over 20 years. That number includes $22.5 million in delayed maintenance. A new building would cost the city about $36.6 million, which would save the city $45.3 million over 20 years.
The city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies to find a new city hall over the past decade. In 2016, the city paid Jones Lang Lasalle, a real estate consulting group, a little less than $100,000 to do an analysis of whether putting a new city hall on the CentrePointe site would work. That report also looked at other locations in downtown including on top of the Lextran Transit Center on Vine Street.
The city and the Lexington Public Library announced in August 2016 that the city was exploring buying the downtown library, which was built in 1989. Library officials have said the main library does not meet its current needs considering the dramatic changes in technology and reading habits since the building was constructed. The city paid $124,5000 for the CGL RicciGreene study.
Sally Hamilton, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the CGL study has helped the city rule out the library and that block of Main Street as a possible location for city hall. Hamilton said the city will likely return to the council for further direction later this summer.