Plans Advancing for City Campus, New Building on Front Street
Plans for a unified city campus on Front Street continue to progress, as some city workers settle in at their new offices in the former police headquarters building and others prepare to move from their offices at 109 North Front Street to the Beacon Building on Gay Street.
Demolition of the building at 109 N. Front should occur some time this fall; the plan is to replace it with a new, four- to five-story, 100,000 square foot building that will also accommodate about 200 parking spaces. The new building will add about 25,000 square feet of office space while allowing for the consolidation of many city functions (such as the the departments of Public Service and Development), that are currently scattered across different floors and/or buildings.
Dave Bush, the city’s assistant director of finance and management, pointed out that the idea of consolidating city workers in one campus has been around for decades, and credits Mayor Coleman with finally making it happen; “it’s really been the Mayor’s leadership to complete that vision.”
Bush also explained the reasoning behind constructing a new building instead of rehabbing the one that is there; 109 N. Front was originally two separate buildings, and the joining of the two (which were at different grades), created half stories and other complications like redundant stairwells.
“This really prohibits effective rehabilitation or renovation into a modern office building.”
The process to select a team to design the new building is going on now, and Bush said the city has high hopes for a design that will complement both the newly-renovated building next door as well as City Hall down the street; “I can say I’m fairly confident it’s not going to be just a utilitarian box.”
As for the parking lot that sits just north of 109 N. Front, a portion of it is being retained for use by the demolition and construction contractors. When the new building is finished, though (in the beginning of 2015 at the earliest), the remainder of the parking lot will be torn up and converted into green space.
The Beacon Building, meanwhile, will continue to be used as a swing space until the project is complete, at which time the city will most likely attempt to market it.
Photos by Walker Evans.