Belleville City Hall renovation costs more, takes longer than expected

Belleville mayor gives tour of City Hall renovations

Mayor Mark Eckert discusses renovations at Belleville City Hall.
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Mayor Mark Eckert discusses renovations at Belleville City Hall.

The price tag for the renovation of the Belleville City Hall and opening the new police headquarters has increased 11 percent from $18.5 million to $20.6 million, and the work at City Hall will be finished in June or July, about six months later than the original estimate.

The police department has already moved to the former Bank of Belleville building at 720 W. Main St., and City Hall renovations began last fall. The work on City Hall at 101 S. Illinois St. initially was expected to be finished by early this year, with the goal of making City Hall compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and removing asbestos from the building that was dedicated in 1958.

Aldermen will consider approving the increased costs Tuesday night.

Most of the increased funding will be used for City Hall improvements that were not part of the original cost estimates.

It’s happening, but it’s never as quick as you like.

Mayor Mark Eckert

“It’s happening, but it’s never as quick as you like,” Mayor Mark Eckert said. “It’s a good project. It needed to be done. It’s basically been 60 years since it was touched, and we needed to reinvest in our City Hall.

“I’m happy that we’re doing it. I hate delays more than anybody, but it’s about money and time.”

The proposed additional City Hall work totals $1.9 million and includes a new boiler and air chiller, removing asbestos and installing new roofs over the north and south buildings. The original plan included a new roof over the lobby. Other added costs include repainting the radio tower, replacing sidewalks along Illinois and Washington streets, adding a metal detector at the City Council chambers and utility line relocation.

Aldermen previously approved an $18.5 million bond issue to pay for the City Hall renovation and police department building.

The proposal calls for an additional $2 million in financing to come from tax increment finance District 3. Aldermen previously approved using $1 million in TIF funding and will be asked to include another $1 million in TIF funding for the project in the 2017 budget.

The city’s Finance Committee unanimously voted Jan. 9 to recommend the full council approve the updated spending plan that includes $4.3 million for City Hall renovations and hires Impact Strategies of Fairview Heights to be the general contractor.

During the Finance Committee meeting, Ward 7 Alderman Trent Galetti asked why a new boiler was not included in the original City Hall renovation plan. The new boiler and air chiller system will cost $625,000.

“We didn’t think we had the money,” Eckert told Galetti.

We’re living on borrowed time.

Finance Director Jamie Maitret in reference to City Hall’s 59-year-old boiler

After contractors inspected the 59-year-old boiler, they told city officials it needed to be replaced soon. “It’s worse than we thought,” Eckert told the committee.

After the meeting, Finance Director Jamie Maitret said in reference to the boiler, “We’re living on borrowed time.”

The former Security Abstract and Title Co. building that was next to City Hall was recently torn down to make way for more handicap parking. Other work at City Hall includes: expanding City Council chambers, building a mezzanine in the chambers, adding a second exit to the council chambers, reupholstering the chairs aldermen use and installing new seats for the audience.

Some of the wooden pews that had been in the council chambers will be moved to the new mezzanine.

Cracks in the lobby’s terrazzo floor will be repaired. Since the exact colors could not be matched, Eckert said the new tiles will be based on the green, yellow and black found on the city’s flag.

City officials had wanted to keep the revolving door on the north side of the building, but it will have to be replaced to meet fire safety code.

City Hall was designed by Charles E. King, one of the most well-known architects ever to live in Belleville.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has described the lobby and council chambers as the two best examples of mid-century modern architecture in a civic building in the Midwest.

During the planning for the renovation, Eckert has said the city will keep the spirit of King’s design.

The council chambers and much of City Hall has been gutted so far and asbestos has been removed. Eckert said the architect who started design work on the City Hall project for the Lawrence Group left the company last year, and that is one of the reasons why more work has not been completed.

Aldermen usually meet on the third Monday of each month, but their next meeting will be Tuesday because the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is Monday. The 7 p.m. meeting will be at Lindenwood University-Belleville at 2600 W. Main St.

City Council meetings have been held at Lindenwood since last summer, and city offices have been temporarily relocated to other sites. The mayor’s office is in the police station at 720 W. Main St., and the city clerk and treasurer offices have been moved to the Parks and Recreation Department building at 512 W. Main St.

Belleville City Hall and police department costs:

  • $10.51 million for police department building and parking garage at 720 W. Main St.
  • $4.32 million for City Hall renovation
  • $3.18 million for purchase of land and building at 720 W. Main St.
  • $1.58 million for design fees
  • $593,000 for project contingency
  • $210,000 for computer, 911 equipment and phone systems
  • $207,000 for bond issuance costs

Source: City of Belleville

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