After about a year of construction, city officials are planning to open the doors of Shakopee’s new $8.5 million City Hall in the next couple of weeks.
The 69,000-square-foot building, at 475 Gorman St., is next door to the police department and across the street from a city engineering building and the Shakopee Public Utilities Center. It completes what City Administrator Bill Reynolds called “a municipal campus.”
Nate Burkett, assistant city administrator, said city staffers are planning a coordinated move between July 31 and August 1, with plans to open the doors to the public on Aug. 2. The project is eight weeks behind the original schedule, largely due to last spring’s wet weather.
Construction workers on Wednesday filtered in and out of the new two-story building, working on final changes inside while new trees and bushes sat outside waiting to be planted. Burkett said the addition of counter tops and wood paneling near the building’s lobby area are among the final remaining tasks.
The current City Hall has occupied a former bank building at 129 Holmes St. since 1993. Officials plan to sell that property to Minneapolis-based developer CPM Cos., which will demolish and replace it with a 70-unit, market-rate apartment complex geared toward young professionals.
Reynolds said the old City Hall is “in really bad shape,” with rampant bugs and security issues.
He also said the land next to the Police Department, which was a field before construction began, was purchased by the city 25 years ago “with the concept that someday a city hall would be located here.”
The rooms in the new building were designed to adapt to a growing city; Reynolds said that staffers may convert some conference rooms into additional office space as needed.
He said the design of the new building, as well as its location near other city services, will allow for better customer service — one of the goals of the project.
About six weeks ago, Shakopee started using an online program to help residents coordinate city services such as obtaining licenses. Burkett said he thinks Shakopee is the first city in Minnesota to start using this program rather than paper forms and in-person communication. The program, as well as the new City Hall, were both done to make the process of working with city officials more convenient, he said.
Another goal of the project, Burkett said, was to determine which city rules were most cumbersome for residents going through construction projects of their own.
“I wanted to make sure that we went through all the same steps as a developer or someone else building a building would go through,” Reynolds said. “I have felt the frustration ... of what they’re going through.”
Reynolds said that after the opening of the new City Hall and the newly renovated community center, he will sit down with Parks and Recreation Director Jamie Polley — who headed the community center expansion — to analyze which steps in the process should be re-evaluated for convenience.
Reynolds said some city rules seem unnecessary and warrant a “hard look”— such as that which stipulates that parking lots and sidewalks can’t be directly next to each other but must have a patch of grass or a row of hedges in between.