After a couple of years of debate, Carver officials are preparing to knock down their 62-year-old city complex and replace it with a $4.95 million building on the same site in the city’s historic downtown district.
The City Council approved a plan in late March for the new City Hall, to include city offices, conference rooms, council chambers and a multipurpose room that can be used for city and private events. City officials moved to offices in the fire station on March 1, and they hope to move into the new building in spring 2019.
Village Hall, which included a gym and a community hall, was shut down two years ago after it was deemed structurally unsound. Carver residents have missed using it for events ranging from Lion’s Club cookouts to the baseball team’s turkey bingo and assorted fundraisers, City Council Member Courtney Johnson said.
“It was the one place in our community where community members could meet, be it for a fundraiser, be it for another social event,” Johnson said. “Not having that public space was just something that we really lacked and missed as a community.”
The City Hall project will be financed through capital improvement fund bonds, Carver City Manager Brent Mareck said. The annual tax impact, assuming no city growth, would be $131 on a Carver home of $200,000, $237 on a $300,000 home and $327 on a $400,000 home, according to city reports.
The City Hall site, at the corner of 4th and Broadway streets, is located in the heart of Carver’s historic district. According to the city’s website, the corner was home to the Lager Bier Saloon in the 1860s and then the Central Hotel in 1897. The hotel was torn down in 1956 and replaced with the building known today as Village Hall.
Downtown Carver was one of the state’s first districts placed on the National Register of Historic Places when it won that designation in 1980. The district contains 87 buildings and four structures built from 1850 to 1925 that are considered historically important in terms of early settlement, business, residential areas and architecture.
Mareck said the area’s historic character was taken into consideration in designing the new City Hall.
“A lot of care was taken with how the building would look within that historic district and not only replicate the existing structures, but complement them,” Mareck said.
Over the last two years, Johnson said, city officials did a “tremendous” amount of consulting with community stakeholders. The city formed a 26-member task force and held focus groups, open houses and brainstorming sessions, all to receive community input on the new building.
Residents weighed in on five options, ranging from repairing Village Hall for nearly $700,000 to building a new $7.76 million City Hall on the former water treatment plant site.
They overwhelmingly preferred that City Hall remain downtown, and officials chose a $4 million plan for a new building on the existing downtown site. The size of that building grew, raising the cost of the project to $4.95 million.
“I feel good that we’ve done a solid job of getting as much community involvement in this planning process for the new city hall as possible,” Johnson said.
Mareck said that he’s happy about the opportunities that officials had to interact with residents and community groups on how the building should look and what it should be used for.
“In the end, I think it’s a representation of not just the one person’s perspective, but of a lot of perspectives,” he said.
Kelly Busche is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.