New City Hall pitch taking shape in Tigard
Tigard officials hope to push forward a proposal to consolidate city departments in a plan that includes the construction of a new multi-story Tigard City Hall on Southwest Burnham Street, built on the site of the current Tigard Public Works Department.
On Tuesday evening, Jan. 19, after this newspaper's press deadline, community development director Kenny Asher was expected to approach the Tigard City Council to update them on the project plan.
"We're at the next place of checking in with the council on feasibility," Asher said last week.
Asher described the city as land-rich while being facilities-poor. With the exception of the Tigard Public Library, he said, city facilities as a whole are in a state of failure, with deferred maintenance costs multiplying and compounding each year to the tune of $15 million.
"They were built in the 1980s," said Asher, adding that the building that houses the city's information technology department is older still, dating back to the 1950s. "These are very old buildings, although from the exterior, the public wouldn't know that. We've kept them looking good, but they're falling apart."
New building plans call for razing the current public works building and finding a suitable 50,000-square-foot piece of property for the department outside the downtown area.
In turn, a new 100,000-square-foot four-story City Hall, which would include a lower level, would be built on the site. It would contain a three-level parking structure.
The current City Hall on Hall Boulevard would be redeveloped to include an estimated 500 units of housing, 30% reserved for affordable housing.
As with the current setup, in which the Tigard Police Department takes up a wing at City Hall, the proposed City Hall would include the city's main police station.
Tigard city officials have been kicking around ideas for replacing the city's aging buildings for years. Last year, the idea of consolidation was floated to the council.
"That was at the end of several months of study, and the council said, 'That makes a lot of sense. Keep going. Take this further,'" Asher said. "The result is the next phase they recently finished, and in that next phase ... we did several things, but the most important thing I think we did was we engaged an economist to study the costs of doing something like this, as compared to just staying the course."
Asher said current buildings don't meet seismic standards, putting the city at a risk of not being able to respond in an emergency following an earthquake. The cost to bring them up to code would be an estimated $21.7 million.
"We're also out of space, especially in the police department, and that building was designed for a few dozen (officers) when it was built," he said. "Now we have five times that amount."
Asher said teams have been put together to work on initial designs for how that building might come together, determining its ultimate size, how big the parking structure should be and how access to the site would work.
He said the big question for councilors to answer is whether the city should move forward with another feasibility study for construction or should it wait.
"It only gets more expensive the longer we wait," he added.
If the council does ultimately decide to green-light construction, it would almost certainly need to ask voters to approve a bond measure. But Asher says there's a way to do that without hitting Tigard residents' pocketbooks.
"These would be bonds that would have the effect of not raising anybody's taxes, but they would be new voter-approved general obligation bonds," said Asher. "Those would be in front of the voters, if we stay on track, in November."
If voters approve that bond measure, it would restructure retiring debt and not increase tax rates above the roughly 34 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation that property owners in Tigard already pay.
Other funding sources would include reserve and bonding revenues from utilities, special revenue bonds, sale of city land, red-light camera photo enforcement revenues, and using urban renewal tax increment that would fund public improvements and parking.
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