By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD —The Marshfield Common Council unanimously approved an action Tuesday night that could lead to city offices being moved from City Hall. A request for proposal (RFP) was authorized so that the city can now seek developers who would like to present plans to purchase and/or redevelop City Hall.
There are several concerns regarding City Hall. According to a study published by consulting firm Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc. in March of 2014, there are issues with the building’s air handling unit, ductwork, the age of hot water boilers, and that there is no overall security system in the building.
City Hall is about 70,000 square feet, and Mayor Chris Meyer has said city offices need only about 25,000 square feet to comfortably operate. This has led to the city leasing space to private businesses, which puts it in competition with the private sector, Meyer has said. Wood County offices also occupy space in City Hall.
Meyer has repeatedly stated that the city does not have to move and would only do so if it would be at least a “cash neutral” proposition. Director of Planning and Economic Development Jason Angell pointed to the Forward Financial Bank facility on Sixth Street, which is up for sale, as a possible new home for city offices.
Forward Financial Bank President and CEO Bill Sennholz said his organization is looking to consolidate both of its Marshfield locations into one 40-50,000-square-foot facility. Sennholz added that Forward Financial has already purchased property directly east of Burger King and Dunkin Donuts in Marshfield to build such a facility. The Sixth Street location of Forward Financial Bank is about 24,000 square feet Sennholz said, adding that the facility was built in 2004.
“I want to make it very clear that this is just testing the waters. This isn’t a commitment. This isn’t, ‘We’re selling. We’re moving.’ This isn’t a done deal,” Angell said.
Angell said that RFPs would be due back to his office by Nov. 13 this year and would then go to the Board of Public Works and subsequently the common council for review. Finalists would then be invited to present their plans to the common council on Dec. 1 of this year, and a single plan would be selected by the council on Dec. 8.
Angell added that it is likely that City Hall will be targeted for housing redevelopment. The asking price for City Hall is negotiable, according the RFP. The RFP also states that for developers interested in City Hall, “The use must contribute to the Downtown Marshfield District and be fully taxable.”
“This wouldn’t be before you tonight if there wasn’t almost a guarantee that we could save the taxpayers money by looking at this,” Meyer said.
Alderwoman Alanna Feddick said she thought that the RFP was a process that the city needed to explore.
“Given the cost of this building, it is not financially feasible to continue with this white elephant,” Feddick said. “So I think it’s a great idea. … It’s about time.”