City Hall North is almost ready for business — and the bills are in.
The city has poured $1.3 million into renovations and repairs — from new carpeting to new conference rooms, with new tables, new chairs and new TVs — for the building across the intersection from the old City Hall.
That’s about a quarter-million dollars more than what the City Council was told when it bought the building in 2006 for $9.5 million.
The 2006 estimate was also $1.3 million, but included a $250,000 backup generator that hasn’t been purchased.
The city regards the move as a deal. The building was appraised at $2 million more than the city paid for it. The city collected rent from former owner Borton Petrini and others for two years. And the city has moved offices out of rented space.
The difference between the rent payments and the cost of operating the building means the city will save an estimated $30,000 a year, said
Steven Teglia, an administrative analyst in the city manager’s office.
Other departments will move into the vacated spaces of old City Hall.
Constructing a new building would have cost at least $18 million, according to city estimates.
The first floor will feature a customer service counter with employees from the city clerk, recreation and parks and treasury.
It has two conference rooms — perhaps the nicest new rooms in the building.
The rooms — one smaller, one larger — feature new tables and chairs, cabinets and countertops, and flat-panel, wall-mounted monitors.
The 65-inch, flat-panel monitors cost about $6,000 each when they were bid in February. If each were purchased today, online retailer Amazon would sell it for $3,100 — with free shipping.
A city, with its legal bidding process, acts slower than an individual, Teglia said. And the price of technology is continually falling, he noted.
Purchasing Officer Kim Berrigan said online discounters use drop shipping and curbside dropoff, but the city wants a higher level of service when dealing with large, expensive equipment.
The conference rooms and public service area were in an area used as classrooms by the University of LaVerne, so that part of the building required full remodeling.
“A majority of the work was done by city crews, and they take pride in their work,” Tegliasaid.
He said the city considered Corian countertops for the conference rooms, but granite was not much more expensive and is much more durable, Teglia said.
Margie Zazueta, a manager for Artistic Surfaces on Union Avenue where the city bought its countertops, agreed. She said granite and Corian both run $70 to $75 a square foot with installation.
The rooms will be used by the City Council’s seven committees, which now use a conference room that gets cramped if a controversial matter attracts more than a dozen or so spectators.
Many of the city’s smaller boards, which currently use the city council chambers, will also use the conference rooms for meetings, said City Manager Alan Tandy.
“We wanted to have state-of-the-art technology and have them be good quality,” Tandy said.
“The TVs aren’t there as TVs, they’re there for presentations to the committees,” he said.
On the fifth floor, Tandy and many others will move into offices that were built for the lawyers that formerly occupied the building.
The four corner offices plus the largest office, in the center of the north side of the building, feature semi-circular windows and natural-gas fireplaces.
“This building was not built to suit the city,” Teglia said. “Most of what you see up here was done for Borton Petrini and Conron.”
And it would cost quite a bit to take the fireplaces out, Teglia said.