City Council members dig in to turn the dirt at a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for the new municipal center on Wednesday at the construction site on West Washington Street.
City Council members dig in to turn the dirt at a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for the new municipal center on Wednesday at the construction site on West Washington Street.

Archived Story

Ground broken for new city hall

Published 11:38pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Calling the project a catalyst for the re-growth of the surrounding area, City Council members broke ground Wednesday on the new municipal center project on West Washington Street.

Officials hope the public investment in the planned 115,000-square-foot, two-story building will spark innovation among the private sector in the downtown corridor.

“It’s the core of the apple, and we want to keep it healthy, and we want to make it thrive,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said before the officials dug in and turned the dirt.

The project will cost roughly $37 million including the cost of a new E911 call center and should be complete in about 20 months, Capital Programs and Buildings Director Gerry Jones said.

The new City Hall will replace the old one nearby, which is nearly 50 years old and has multiple structural deficiencies, Jones has said. One main public entrance has been closed for three years at the recommendation of consultants.

The old building will remain in place as the new one is being constructed. Once city employees and equipment are moved into the new building — in the summer of 2014, Jones hopes — the old one will be demolished and a parking area will take its place.

The new building will be safer for employees and the public, City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn said.

“It is designed to provide a safe and functional environment for all who walk through her doors to either give or receive services,” Cuffee-Glenn said.

The new building will front on West Washington Street at its intersection with Henley Place and Wellons Street. However, most people will enter the building through the rear, because that is where the parking is located, Jones said.

Officials foresee new life breathed into the surrounding business district thanks to the building.

“I see this as just another step toward the complete revitalization of the downtown corridor,” Councilman Charles Parr said during the ceremony.

Floor plans were on display at a reception after the groundbreaking. The first floor would include City Council chambers as well as a “one-stop shop” area for those hoping to get building permits and other services. It also will host offices, like that of the city treasurer, where citizens need to conduct business frequently.

Departments visited less often by ordinary citizens, such as Budget and Strategic Planning, would be on the second floor. This strategy will help make the building more convenient for the public, Jones said.

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  • Norseman

    Join the Suffolk Tea party they are really trying to make a difference. There is no party affiliation just fiscal conservative ideals in the mix. one or two or five votes wont do it there are too many low information voters out there. We need to educate them so they can make realy informed decisions. We need a city manager/council that can pull us back from their feel good spending habits to a more sustainable future that only funds actual needs. We can get the wants funded without taxpayer money if there are really desired.

    Suggest Removal

    • thekytikat

      I second this suggestion. We in the Suffolk want to be able to put up alternatives to the 4 council members up for re-election in 2014; Gardy, Parr, Duman, & Brown. We want to educate the people of this city about how this city is being run. We need all of you! We need your help! We meet at the Constantia House behind Baker Funeral Home every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month. Come out, get to know us. You might actually like us. ;)

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      • thekytikat

        Geez… I can type. LOL “the Suffolk” should be “the Suffolk Tea Party”

        Seriously though, our website is suffolkhrtp.wordpress.com/ or look us up on Facebook – facebook.com/HRTPSuffolk

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  • jhuxster

    Don’t forget folks with a $37 MILLION dollar castle you have to have all new furniture–you can’t expect city employees to be stuck using old equipment and furniture and messing up the decor and atmosphere. My guess is in a couple of years they will try to sneak in 5 to 6 million to pay for furniture and equipment for the building. BTW does any know how much the city manager’s new throne will cost us?

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  • Johnny

    Soon we will all be given the chance to elect new leaders and I sincerely hope we take the chance. Those who need to be replaced include Parr, Gardy, Linda Johnson and Duman……..I hope I’m not alone in wanting these crooks ousted!

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    • jhuxster

      Vice Mayor Brown needs to head the list of fired city council members.

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  • Roger Leonard

    While I do understand the need for a New City Hall, it appears that little expense was spared to guild with gold, this new municipal castle… The question I would raise is: Why was there no thought at making the building less abstentious and more functional? Also, why not build this as the first major effort of a municipal campus, perhaps at the old Obici Hospital site? We continue to build city service buildings all over the place and make the citizens run, to and fro.

    Can we really afford such luxury and puffery in what the public has to pay for, just to insure the City Manager has nice digs? I thought that died when Steve Herbert left town…

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  • Norseman

    Chesapeake will no longer be alone with a Taj Mahal ours will be built soon. I saw the plans last spring its state of the art no expense spared. It is great to live in such a rich city, I think we need to raise the mill rate on our homes to 1.50 2.00 for the waterfront homes (they can afford it) so we can keep our city officials in the style they deserve. All of our city officials need a 15% raise this year to keep up with the other city’s or they will leave us to starve without their leadership.

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  • rjrhodes

    Hopefully all participants will be out of office when it opens.

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    • 4ever cynical

      Great idea! The occupants of the new City Hall should be new local leaders. I wish we could replace these smug bureaucrats and self-serving career politicians with honest public servants that really have the city’s best interests at heart.

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  • Johnny

    Jeff Gardy looks bloated

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  • Johnny

    Jeff Gardy look bloated

    Suggest Removal

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