Building to become housing as city offices will move to new facility
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — After several months of deliberating behind closed doors, the Marshfield Common Council has agreed to the sale of City Hall to developer Gorman & Company Inc., pending the resolution of some final aspects of the deal. Gorman will convert City Hall into workforce housing. City Administrator Steve Barg was given authority by the council to execute a purchase agreement with Gorman if he is able resolve the final details of the deal, which he characterized as minor.
Gorman will purchase City Hall for $500,000 and will allow the city to retain income from cellular towers atop the building for a period of 15 years, which could generate about $1.5 million for the city, Mayor Chris Meyer said.
In May the city struck a deal to buy Forward Financial Bank’s Sixth Street facility for $2.6 million. Forward Financial is in the process of building a new headquarters on the north side of Marshfield. Barg and Meyer said renovations to Forward Financial’s Sixth Street facility to prepare the building for city use could cost about $500,000.
In its initial presentation to the city in early December, Gorman said it planned to “convert the existing building (City Hall) into 40 affordable workforce housing units.”
“The creation of additional housing in the downtown area is an instrumental piece as we work toward creating a vibrant downtown. The addition of individuals and their families will bring more dependence upon our existing and future businesses as these families look to meet their daily needs within the area,” said Director of Development Services Jason Angell.
The city has also committed to providing $2 million toward the construction of Forward Financial’s new facility and is hoping to recoup that investment over roughly nine years through property tax payments.
Barg has said he believes the city will move into Forward Financial’s Sixth Street building in the fall of 2018. Forward Financial, per a development agreement with the city of Marshfield, is to complete construction of its new bank on or before Sept. 30, 2018. Meyer said that the current City Hall would open as housing in either late 2019 or early 2020.
Forward Financial’s Sixth Street building is about 24,000 square feet, according to company president and CEO Bill Sennholz, while City Hall is about 70,000 square feet. However, much of the current City Hall is occupied by commercial tenants as well as county offices. A 2014 study of City Hall indicated that city offices only required about 25,000 square feet for operations.
City Hall also has a long list of needed improvements and maintenance, which the city has not done with the knowledge that it would likely be moving. According to the 2014 study, the cost of improving City Hall could be more than $2.6 million in maintenance that had, at that point, not been done.