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First phase of City Hall project OK’d

Bainbridge leaders and citizens will get to get a glimpse at what a renovated City Hall could look like on paper, before a decision is made on whether to go ahead with the actual work.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Bainbridge City Council voted unanimously, with all members present, to approve a contract with Clemons, Rutherford and Associates of Tallahassee, Fla., for architectural services on a proposed redesign/renovation of City Hall.

Approval of the contract makes the city responsible for paying for the development of schematic drawings associated with the proposal. The design phase would consist of about 15 percent of the total project and bear a cost of $38,850, according to City Manager Chris Hobby.

The council had tabled consideration of the contract twice previously after Councilman Greg Waddell asked questions about what the contract would entail.

Addressing Waddell’s concerns, Hobby said the council was agreeing to pay the firm a consulting fee equal to 7.4 percent of the project’s cost. However, the council could opt at a later date not to go past delivery of the schematics and spend no more additional money.

At present, the proposed cost of the project is $3.5 million, the figure city officials used when including the City Hall project among the permitted uses of revenue from the fifth local Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

“The [project] budget would be reset at the end of the planning phase, based on how much it would cost to construct those plans,” Hobby said.

The headquarters of City of Bainbridge consists of two buildings at present—the original marble building at the corner of Broughton and Broad streets and an adjacent building to the north that houses the Community Development division offices.

At the council’s past two annual retreats, City Manager Chris Hobby has discussed with the council the idea of using a third building, the dilapidated Kwilecki Building to the south, for more office space.

Hobby has suggested the council could integrate all three buildings into one cohesive structure and at the same time, realize a number of aesthetic and functional benefits.