PORTAGE | With an exterior face-lift soon under way at City Hall, officials have given approval to look at the interior of the building.
The Redevelopment Commission this past week approved the hiring of Falk PLI, a Portage architectural firm, to evaluate the interior of the building and develop a schematic design for its future use. The cost of the contract is not to exceed $15,000.
Architect Scott Falk said the work will include meeting with city officials to determine the space needs for government offices and then determine the best way to fit those needs into the building.
Handicapped accessibility is a big issue in the building, Falk said. While the building has a lift to take people to the second floor, it does not function well.
Falk said the study will look at moving council chambers to the bottom floor of the building, likely in space where the fire station is now housed. City officials said previously there is a need to move Fire Station 3 from the city building and construct, at some point in the future, a new fire station at a different location.
Falk said there is also a desire to move the city's Utility Service Department's offices from the building across the street from City Hall into the main building.
"We want to look at how to make the building function better," said Falk, adding his work also will include putting together "a respectable budget" for the project. Falk expects it will take four to six weeks to complete the schematic design.
Falk's work will take a study completed by DLZ of Hammond initially in 2007 and updated last year a step further. That study looked at various city buildings and departments and made recommendations for remodeling of present and/or construction of new facilities.
The city has moved forward to begin constructing a new street department facility and is continuing to look at work needed at the police station.
In February, the Redevelopment Commission awarded a contract to Gough Construction Inc. to complete exterior work, including replacing windows, sills and lintels, reroofing the building and sealing the exterior brick.
The cost of that work is $359,500. Falk said work on the exterior is likely to begin soon.