City Hall renovation off to good start

Published 10:00 am Friday, June 8, 2012

THE LOWER FLOOR of the old Kwilecki Building, which was also once the home of the Fixture Exchange, is shown in a recent photograph illustrating improvements made as part of renovation of Bainbridge City Hall at 101 S. Broad St.

Renovation of Bainbridge City Hall started April 1 and is progressing at a good rate, City Manager Chris Hobby said this week.

The headquarters of the 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. A third building, the dilapidated Kwilecki Building to the south, will be renovated and unified with the other two to provide more office and storage space.

PDC Construction of Bainbridge has completed the initial demolition of un-needed walls and fixtures and has started the process of “roughing in” the existing City Hall buildings. That includes plumbing work and floor decking.

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The Kwilecki building’s floors have been torn out and new floor joists have been installed to replace ones that were rotting, Hobby said. Architectural firm Clemons, Rutherford and Associates previously found the foundations of the Kwilecki Building to be “dangerously unstable.” The building itself, which is about 9,000 square feet, had been damaged by moisture and mold. The building’s roof had been replaced in 2006, after the Downtown Development Authority purchased it the previous year.

The next step will be framing work on all three buildings, which will be the first step towards shaping the new building’s footprint. Childers Construction of Tallahassee, Fla., is providing construction management services.

Hobby said the pace of renovations has been smooth so far and the tentative completion date is July 2013.

In 1976, City Hall moved to its current location at 101 S. Broad Street, the site of a marble bank building originally constructed in the early 1900s.

Primary goals for City Hall renovation include increased safety for employees and visitors, abatement of health hazards and shoring up the declining structural stability of all three buildings — particularly the Kwilecki building.

Other highlights of the new City Hall will be a larger Council chambers that would be more accessible and useful for other meetings, as well as a “one-stop shop” for payment of city bills, fees and fines.

Counting architectural and engineering fees, furnishings, fixtures, equipment and other fees, the estimated total final cost is $4.1 million. A private bond issuance is funding the project; the city has 20 years to pay off the bond and plans to use future collections from Bainbridge’s share of the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

CONTRACTORS RECENTLY PEELED away the acoustical tiles which lined the drop ceilings at City Hall, 101 S. Broad St., to uncover the building’s original tin ceilings, which have a historically significant design.