Mandy Sylvester stood outside the new City Hall building in downtown Carver, pointed to the impressive two-story structure and said: “I think it’s been worth the wait.”
Sylvester, 57, who recently moved to the city, made her comment to her friend, Karen Manderson, another new arrival to the community.
“I live up the hill from here, so I’ve not seen much of the building process, but I’ve heard plenty about it,” Manderson, 61, said Monday afternoon. “I never saw the other one, but this looks pretty nice.”
City staff members have been gradually moving into their second-floor offices this week, while construction and cleaning crews put finishing touches on the structure. Plans call for the building to be open for business Monday.
“This will be a huge contrast compared to what used to be here,” Mayor Courtney Johnson said, while making a brief visit to the facility Monday. “This has been a long process; a thoughtful process. This will be good for the community.”
The City Council in February 2016 began investigating options after the Village Hall was declared an unsafe structure and ordered closed because of a weakened roof that could collapse.
The council was presented with five options, all of which called for rebuilding at a different location, but the council instead went with a sixth option, Johnson said.
That option called for a two-story, 10,468-square-foot building to replace the 28-year-old City Hall and 61-year-old Village Hall on the same site, 316 Broadway St.
Major features of the new facility’s main floor include a community “multipurpose” room capable of seating 198 people at tables, and an adjoining 630-square-foot commercial kitchen. The second floor will house City Council chambers with seating for 36 spectators, five offices, eight work stations and two conference rooms.
The five-member council unanimously approved financing most of the project by borrowing $4.95 million and repaying the loan over 20 years with property taxes.
“There has been a ton of development, almost exclusively up the hill, away from downtown,” Johnson said. “For the city to reinvest and decide that downtown is where we want and need to be, is a significant statement to our commitment to our historic downtown.”
“We want the public to use this,” she said, emphasizing the large community center and commercial kitchen. “This is absolutely their city hall.”
The facility has many windows on each level and ample meeting and office spaces on the upper level to accommodate current and future staffing needs.
“The community meetings space will have room for folks to rent for gatherings and other events,” Johnson said. “Bringing back that community meeting space will be significant.”
The project, from demolition to construction, took about a year to complete. City offices displaced by the new construction had been relocated to the fire station.
Lisa Schoknecht, who’s run Lisa’s Place in downtown Carver about 18 years, hopes the new City Hall might attract more customers to the downtown area.
“I’m glad it stayed downtown,” she said Monday. “It will help keep downtown alive. Maybe it will be busier, which would be good for businesses overall.”