The site of the future Shoreline Civic Center/City Hall has been determined, but the early stages of designing the building have only just begun. In a workshop on March 20 at Meridian Park Elementary School, city officials asked citizens for their input about the new facility.
“Since incorporation we have believed owning our own city hall was the financially responsible thing to do so we’ve set aside money for that purpose,” Mayor Bob Ransom said in his introduction. “A city hall is also an important focal point for the community. We want you to be proud of the facility that houses your local government.”
The new City Hall will be built at the site of its original Annex at the intersection of North 175th Street and Midvale Avenue North. The city has purchased the 1.7 acre Highland Plaza site as well as a 1.2 acre site of office and retail buildings located east of the Annex. The site does not include the Grease Monkey on North 175th Street.
“Both pieces of property were very vital to our project because we felt we needed to have a strong sense of what happens to the property adjoining the city hall,” project manager Jesus Sanchez said.
Prior to December 2006, the city spent close to $600,000 annually to rent the space used for city hall, city finance director Debbie Tarry said. She explained that rental prices are expected to increase close to 7 percent, which would exceed the total cost of actually owning the site.
The total cost of the project is projected to be close to $25 million. Over a period of time, the city saved $12 million to begin the project and plans to borrow the remaining amount, paying off the debt with an allocation of real estate excise tax and money traditionally used for rent. A property tax increase to finance City Hall will not occur.
“We think it would be prudent in the long term for the city to own its facility, earn equity and hopefully at some point in time, not have to pay for the actual building cost and be able to use those dollars for other services provided by the city,” Tarry said.
Following the presentation, citizens were asked to brainstorm as many ideas as they could about what the public uses of the facility should be; how the facility would reflect community values; what architectural features the building should possess; and to consider any social, environmental or financial considerations.
Comments included ideas about creating a shared meeting space, the physical look of the building and space surrounding it and the use of environmentally friendly materials in the construction process.
A Civic Center/City Hall has been discussed since the city of Shoreline was incorporated in 1995. In November 1999, the city council authorized a pre-design study which included the consideration of 88 sites such as Cromwell Park, the SEARS site, Shoreline Center and Hamlin Park.
“I just want to make sure citizenry is involved in the process and we have the chance to ask questions and get involved,” Shoreline resident Dennis Terpstra said. “The whole process will go better if people are allowed to make comments.”
City officials plan to hold another presentation and public workshop in June. Citizens will have the opportunity to learn more about the design process, make comments and ask questions at that time.