VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — At the first of three public meetings aimed at giving residents a voice in what to do about City Hall, a majority of the 61 residents stood opposed to relocating city services to Town Center.
Officials say the building is 49 years old and has several issues that need to be fixed including the removal of asbestos containing materials and the installation of new electrical and heating and air conditioning systems.
“They need to be replaced, but the building was built during a time when asbestos was a very popular construction material,” said Tom Leahy, deputy city manager for infrastructure.
Leahy says the building’s vertical design also makes it impossible for the city to renovate the current building in phases, because they have to shut down the electricity to the entire building.
“I do not doubt that we need a new City Hall. We do. But the smart way to do that would be to build on land we already have here,” said Kathy Shannon.
Mickey Moore, another resident opposed to the relocation, raised concerns about traffic congestion.
The move to Town Center would cost about $65 million — which is $10 million more than the other two options — because the city would need to pay for the construction of a parking garage.
Some residents say the location would be more convenient for more people and would be good for business.
“It would also spur more development by Armada Hoffler who has done a wonderful job in Town Center,” said George Najim.
If the city decides to stay at the Municipal Complex in Princess Anne, they could either renovate and expand the current facility or build a new, three-story building. Both options would cost about $55 million, according to the city.
The city says they also need to increase their space from approximately 80,000 square-feet to 149,000 square-feet to accommodate the building’s 252 employees.
Councilman Bobby Dyer says he favors the building staying close to its current location. He also says there’s a lot of “skepticism” among the council members about moving City Hall nine miles away.
“I still have some major reservations about the Town Center option. Personally, I think if it were off the table, we could make maybe a better decision about what we want to do,” said Dyer.
One man in the crowd urged the city to spend less on infrastructure and more on virtual services.
Leahy says no matter what kind, a replacement is urgent.
“If something isn’t done at some point, the building will make the decision for us. It’ll come to the point where it can’t function.”
The second public meeting is July 26 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The third and final meeting is Aug. 23 at the Westin in Town Center. Both meetings are from 6 to 8 p.m.
The city will also host an informational question and answer via Facebook Live on July 26 from 5 to 6 p.m.