Officials: Doing nothing about VB City Hall is not an option

Council could make final decision as soon as September

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Systems inside City Hall are failing and the building is bursting at the seams, according to officials, who say doing nothing is not an option.

“I didn’t know there were that many problems with the building,” said Michelle Rilee, one of 28 residents who came to a public information session on Wednesday at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

The city posted a presentation about the issue through a Facebook live video as well.

The city is proposing six options, varying in price from $55-$57 million, that all keep the building at the Municipal Complex in Princess Anne.

Last month, the council scrapped a proposal to move City Hall to Town Center. Proponents said the move nine miles from the current building would have put city services closer to more people.

A needs assessment uncovered the 48-year-old City Hall, or Building 1 at the complex, has widespread asbestos.

Tom Nicholas, facilities engineer, says the asbestos makes it impossible for his team to fix other major issues.

“You cannot correct the heating, ventilation and air conditioning deficiencies or the electrical deficiencies, or put new equipment in until the asbestos is removed from the building,” said Nicholas.

Renovation cost is estimated at $24 million, but Nicholas says that does not give the 300 employees at City Hall enough space.

Right now, there are offices in use from the basement to the attic.

By 2050, the city projects more than 100 positions will be added in the building, which is why the city is proposing doubling the size of City Hall.

To do that, the plans call for either renovating and expanding Building 1 or building a new, three-story building nearby in the same complex.

“We’re planning for 50 years, so we want to make sure we do it right,” said Councilwoman Barbara Henley. “At this point my mind is open, and I’m certainly looking at all options.”

If the city does construct a new building, Nicholas says they would likely repurpose Building 1 in the coming years to accommodate growth in other city departments.

Some people at Wednesday’s public meeting raised concerns over parking.

The city says there are enough parking spots in the complex, but residents could have to walk up to a quarter-mile to get to City Hall depending on which plans the council approves.

City Manager Dave Hansen tells 10 On Your Side he hopes the council makes a final decision sometime in September.

“They can’t make a bad decision,” said Nicholas. “Any one of the choices they make will meet the needs of the city.”

Read more on the future of City Hall and take a survey about the issue at this link. The city will hold its third and final public meeting about City Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 23 at the Westin in Town Center.