Augusta Commission considers full renovation of Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building

A rendering shows a remodeled municipal building. A full remodeling would carry a $32.3 million price tag.

An Augusta Commission committee on Friday moved closer to approving a full remodeling of the municipal building.

 

In September, the commission opted for a modified plan that involved adding an elevator tower, a public entrance and training space at the back of the building; and renovating the restrooms, heating and air conditioning, and the first and second floors at a cost of about $20 million.

The administrative services committee agreed Friday that the full commission would vote Monday on whether to approve a full remodeling of the complex, which would cost about $32.3 million.

Under that plan, departments such as Plan­ning and Development would share a space, said architect Ed Boyen, of Virgo Gambill, the project firm.

Either option will involve a new commission chamber, converted from one of the former courtrooms, that is 21/2 times the size of the current chamber, Boyen said.

The full remodeling would require 29 staffers to move, and the modified plan would require about 40, as departments are relocated when their offices are renovated, according to Jennifer Henderson, the senior project for Turner Construction, the construction manager on the project.

“Are we going to have adequate parking to accommodate not only the employees, but the citizens?” Commissioner Bill Fennoy said.

Boyen said both projects would cost the complex 38 parking spaces but still leave sufficient parking.

“I’m wondering how much it’s going to cost to build the building like it needs to be done,” Commissioner Marion Williams said. “This city’s growing. We’re going to need more facilities.”

City financial consultant Dianne McNabb attended the work session to explain options for financing the full remodeling.

Using remaining money allocated to remodel the building in the sixth phase of the city’s special purpose local option sales tax, the city’s total bond issue needs to be $26.485 million, including a 2 percent cost of issuance and taking advantage of historically low interest rates, McNabb said.

The city can use the next phase of the sales tax, not yet approved by voters, to cover the 20-year bonds’ debt service, she said.

Fennoy said the project might be a tough sell for east Au­gusta residents plagued by flooding since the time the building was constructed. He asked that other projects might be included.

“It hasn’t been forgotten, trust me,” Williams said.

Asked whether he supported the municipal building project, Commissioner Grady Smith said he’ll “be leaning toward progress.”

“I trust what you gentlemen are talking about, and I’m ready to move forward,” he said.

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