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Detroit Lakes looks at potential $4.3 million City Hall remodel

Detroit Lakes city staff debuted plans for a potential remodel of city hall during their work session on Dec. 21. The city's administrator said the city hall remodel project has been on the city's radar for nearly 10 years, since the liquor store moved to its current location on Holmes Street. Preliminary estimates put the project cost around $4.3 million.

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Artist rendering of the future Detroit Lakes City Hall north face. (submitted)

Detroit Lakes may be getting a remodeled city hall in coming years, after preliminary plans were presented to city council members during their work session on Tuesday.

The plans, revealed on Dec. 21, call for a new front entrance and parking on Frazee Street, new office space for future growth and a new council chamber with 180 seats available for the public.

During the meeting, Kelcey Klemm, city administrator for Detroit Lakes, said the city hall remodel project has been on the city's radar for nearly 10 years, since the liquor store moved to its current location on Holmes Street.

"One of the things worth pointing out here is the mechanical systems that are in this building are still the mechanical systems from 1977," said Klemm. "You've heard about our air conditioning problems, about why we were running water on the air conditioner this summer to keep it cool, that's part of the problems that we have."

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The old bottling warehouse that currently houses City Hall was erected in the 1950s, with the last major renovation being completed in 1979, Klemm said. A facility needs assessment was completed in 2017, which concluded the city needs about 16,000 square feet of space for future growth. Currently, the city is only using about 10,000 square feet of the 18,000-square-foot city administration building, with most of the lower level (which used to hold the city liquor store) not being utilized.

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Existing Detroit Lakes City Hall site plans. (screenshot)

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Existing Detroit Lakes City Hall plans. (screenshot)

"Ultimately in August of 2018 the city council voted to proceed with the sales tax option and with the (police department) only option at Summit and Front Street," said Klemm. "Basically, we were looking at a joint facility, the cost was pretty excessive, and we were looking at $12 million … and ultimately, the feeling was that we didn't know how a city hall would actually pass a full referendum. Generally, the public supports a new law enforcement center and city halls are not as popular."

The new remodel would feature a new Frazee Street-facing public entrance and reception desk, with conference rooms off the main lobby for city staff to meet with citizens and developers without having to enter into the main office areas.

"One of the things we'd need to add, if we're going to utilize both stories, is an elevator," said Klemm.

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Building layout for potential future Detroit Lakes City Hall. (submitted)

The elevator would make the entire building handicap assessable, which is necessary if city operations were to be conducted on both levels.

The new council chambers will include seating for up to 180 people with monitors in the seating area for members of the public to see presentations more easily, said Klemm.

The plans also include more windows to allow more sunlight into the building.

"Regardless of what plan, you do lose some parking spaces, which is unfortunate, but I don't know if there is anyway to avoid losing some parking spaces," he said.

The Roosevelt Avenue side of the building would be transformed into a staff parking and entrance, while the public would use the former liquor store parking lot on Frazee Street next to the McDonald's driveway.

"We had looked at roughly a $3 million budget for remodeling, obviously, construction costs have gone up," said Klemm.

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The preliminary project costs will put the price tag around $3.7 million for construction, plus another $650,000 in soft costs for a total estimated project cost of $4.35 million.

"This is still very preliminary, I mean, you can see these are just boxes with color, and again, it's taken quite a while to just get boxes on paper that would make sense. We want your feedback before we do anything else," he said.

The city finance committee will take up the plans at its meeting next month.

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