Plans to renovate three city-owned buildings were given the green light by City Council this week.
Council on Monday approved $25,000 in supplemental appropriations to complete a study to renovate the second floor of City Hall; and buildings at 18 E. William St., and 20 E. William. The study will include concept drawings and construction estimates.
“City staff wishes to provide City Council with complete information and recommendations regarding the use and the associated renovation costs of the facilities as well as the second floor of City Hall,” the legislation stated. “City staff believes that contracting with an outside professional design firm is the best option to achieve these goals.”
Assistant City Manager Jackie Walker said that after a lengthy process, Columbus-based TRIAD Architects was selected to do the study. Recently, city staff visited the TRIAD-designed Columbus Idea Foundry, a shared workshop with both high-tech and low-tech spaces.
“We saw some amazing work,” Walker told council. “It would be wonderful to have something like that here in Delaware to inspire our innovators. We wanted to make sure we did it right.”
The city is interested in building an entrepreneurial center downtown. In 2013, it made a “protective purchase” of the former Gazette building at 18 E. William.
“There’s nothing like having several entrepreneurs in a room together, throwing ideas at each other, helping each other with their businesses,” said Sean Hughes, the city of Delaware’s economic development director. “If you think about it, the downtown area is an incubator. The heart of the county is beating right here. Having your entrepreneurial center here makes a lot of sense.”
The Gazette building might also house some departments currently in City Hall, such as planning, building inspections and economic development.
The last building in the mix, at 20 E. William, formerly housed the city’s engineering department. The department moved into a new building late last year at the public works facility, 440 E. William.
Walker said there is a 90-day timeline to complete the study. Having concept drawings and knowing the approximate cost to renovate will help the city in securing grant funding, she said.
“Our design firm is very excited to get started,” Walker said. Council agreed to declare an emergency, and unanimously passed the measure on second reading.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Aleksandar Llic asked the city to help him with his idea of organically worm-composting food waste from local restaurants and farm manure.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.