A little more than a month into the agreement that gives the city of Blaine six months to consider the purchase of the Banner Bank building, city officials are in the process of determining what changes would be necessary to make the building fit the city’s needs.
At the August 22 city council meeting, Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic said city staff met last week to see how the top floor of the $1.76 million building could be reconfigured to house the city council chambers and municipal court. Staff gave their input on the potential remodel to an architect, who will provide a cost estimate for the work that needs to be done.
On June 27, the city council approved the agreement between the city and Exports, Inc., giving city officials six months to consider purchasing the 25,000-square-foot building. Tomsic said the purchase would be partially offset by keeping the existing tenants, which include Banner Bank on the first floor.
The city would occupy about 7,000 square feet of space in the building. The general government offices would move to the third floor, and the fourth floor would be redesigned for the city council chambers, municipal court and public space for community events and meetings.
“It’s going to work nicely for us,” Tomsic said.
Blaine public works director Steve Banham said the city will try to minimize new construction if they decide to purchase the building. The space will offer some room for expansion and be able to house the city’s government for years to come.
“You really have a lot of space per person,” Banham said.
Tomsic said nothing permanent will be added to the fourth floor, with the city instead relying on movable additions to furnish the city council chambers and courts. The furniture inside the council chambers, for example, would be movable and have a portable raised area that would replace the current chamber’s fixed dais, he explained.
“We’re looking at maximizing flexibility,” Tomsic said.
Blaine city council member Harry Robinson raised concerns about the need for privacy on the fourth floor, such as when the city council needs to enter into an executive session and not be heard from the hallway. Tomsic said a fairly large, nearly soundproof conference room sits across the hall from where the city council chambers will be. He suggested executive sessions could be held in there.
Blaine’s government offices need to move from their current location on H Street because that building is seismically unsafe and has issues with asbestos and mold. If the old city hall gets demolished, Tomsic said the city could appoint a citizen’s committee to help decide what could replace the old building, such as a new senior center, library or community center.