City contemplates new office building

City officials are considering demolishing a city-owned parking facility near City Hall for a new building to house city employees currently scattered around downtown in a half dozen buildings.

The goal is to provide more modern office spaces for city employees and facilities that better serve the public. The city’s downtown campus also includes many aging buildings in need of significant repair, said Greg Goeke, the city’s director of property services.

The City Council’s Ways & Means Committee has approved issuing a request of proposals for consultants to help city leaders evaluate their real estate options.

If city leaders opt to move ahead with constructing a new building at the site now home to a city-owned parking facility at 415 5th St. S., it would not be built until after the city hosts the Super Bowl in 2018, Goeke said.

About 100,000 square feet is needed for a public safety facility and another 150,000 for departments that have high interaction with the public, he said.

Consolidating city employees into a new building will also free up city-owned parcels for new development.

Mark Ruff, the city’s chief financial officer, said the goal is to return to the City Council by the end of 2016 to review findings from consultants about cost estimates for a new building and possible revenue sources.

“I want to emphasize that it’s not going to be our recommendation that we have a big increase in the levy in 2017 to pay for this building,” he said. “We have lots of options to consider.”

One possibility he noted is that the city has bond issues that will soon be paid off, freeing up revenue currently used to pay off debt service on other structures.