Transition time for Richfield

  • Article by: TOM MEERSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 31, 2011 - 11:18 PM

The new City Hall will open next week, but landscaping and expanded parking will take a few more months to complete.

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Richfield’s new city hall, including police and fire station, opens June 6. Photo Tom Meersman

When offices close at Richfield City Hall on Friday, it'll mark the end of 45 years of business there.

But approximately 125 city, police and fire workers won't be moving very far.

The city's new $22.2 million home is just next door, on Portland Avenue S. and 67th Street.

In fact, the old City Hall will be demolished this summer and turned into a parking lot for the new building.

The new City Hall, which opens on Monday, is a far cry from the 1966 structure, where workers in basement cubicles never could see daylight, and residents seeking licenses or permits on the first floor sometimes had to wait in a congested lobby.

The entry to the new building opens into a spacious two-story glass atrium, with city council chambers straight ahead.

Its 100,000 square feet is almost twice the size of the current City Hall, and includes underground parking for the city's two-dozen police cars, drive-through bays for fire trucks, and an exercise room for city workers.

On a recent tour of the new digs, Assistant City Manager Pam Dmytrenko said the building is functional and aesthetically pleasing, but not luxurious.

It is lit extensively by natural light from side windows and four large translucent skylights. Its public conference rooms, training areas and outdoor plaza overlook adjacent Heredia Park, some of which served as a staging area during construction and needs much site work.

"The building is done, but the site has a ways to go," Dmytrenko said.

The children's play area and a small baseball field have been re-installed, but much of the park needs new sod and will get new tennis courts.

City Manager Steve Devich said neighbors were concerned about the park throughout the process, and the goal is to re-open it around July 4th.

City Council members chose not to spend extra money for green certification, which can include green roofs and other expensive add-ons. But project director Mike Klass said the new building contains all the latest energy-efficient mechanical equipment, wall and roof insulation and even a soon-to-be-constructed underground storm water holding system.

The new building is also a step up for firefighters, who will have separate rooms for sleeping rather than a larger dormitory-style space. They also will have the option of taking the stairs or sliding down a pair of fire poles during middle-of-the-night emergencies.

Most of the move will occur this weekend, but police officers have already transferred their property evidence room and its contents to the new space, and they began operating their dispatcher communications center from the new headquarters last week.

City employees will take over the new building on Monday. Officials said that a grand opening with public tours will occur in the fall, after the old building is razed and more parking is available.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

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