With the necessary real estate paperwork out of the way, city of Blaine officials are now planning the hands-on work to make the Banner Bank building their own.
As of March 9, the building at the corner of Martin and 4th streets became the property of the city. City staff plan to begin renovating the third and fourth floors in May and move all the city hall offices and the municipal court in by the end of the summer.
To get to this point, the city had to follow its own regulations and apply for a conditional use permit. Such a permit is needed for city government uses in the zoning district in which the Banner Bank building sits, Blaine community development director Michael Jones explained.
“So, just like everyone else, the city needs to go through the permitting process,” he said.
The Blaine Planning Commission granted the permit last week, allowing staff to focus on designing the necessary renovations to the building. Planning staff have budget about $400,000 for renovations, and Jones detailed these changes at Monday’s city council meeting.
“It’s a good plan, and we have some good architects working with us,” city manager Gary Tomsic said.
The new building’s fourth floor, where the majority of the changes will happen, will be split between council chambers and municipal court offices.
The council chambers will be able to hold up to 75 people, whereas the current chambers could only hold around 40. The chambers will also include dual projection screens for staff presentations, in-floor wiring and a t-loop, for use with certain types of hearing aids.
The city’s two court staff and judge will move into new offices on the fourth floor, have the use of the floor’s two conference rooms for client/attorney consultations, and gain a dedicated detention room for “uncooperative court customers.” Jones said these offices will be a major improvement over the city court’s current accommodations.
“There’s almost no room to add another piece of paper in [the current space],” Jones said. “It’ll be a really big improvement for the courts.”
The city’s finance, utility billing, administrative and community development services departments will move into the third floor. This space will require less drastic renovations, such as the addition of a service window for the utility billing office. The third floor will also house lobby space for the city offices and two conference rooms.
Most of the building’s current tenants, including Banner Bank, will stay put. Tomsic said the rent from all tenants will bring in $50,000 per year, which will help to cover the operating costs and the city’s $99,150 per year debt payments on the building. Changes on the first and second floors will be minor and include new paint and carpeting.
Renovations will also involve minor landscaping work surrounding the building and the addition of a city hall sign. The city has yet to nail down a long-term lease agreement with the building’s main tenant, Banner Bank, but this agreement will include an outdoor signage plan.
The current city hall building will most likely be demolished due to numerous structural and interior problems.