In search of a new city hall
The quest for a new civic center facility is inching along in Mount Angel, with current developments involving a hard look at the former Wells Fargo Bank building as a police station.
Mount Angel City Council unanimously voted to direct City Manager Amber Mathiesen to enter negotiations with the building owner with the intent that it could potentially be reconstructed and equipped for use as a police station.
Several city councilors have toured the building with Mount Angel Police Chief Mark Daniel to assess what the city would need to undertake in converting it to a police station. Mathiesen urged the council to authorize her to negotiate a lease with an option to purchase, thereby affording the city the option to employ an engineer to examine its structural value, including any potential issues with asbestos, lead paint or seismic upgrades.
"The City has been examining multiple options for a new city hall and police station, from new construction, to rehabilitation of existing buildings in the community," Mathiesen said.
The council took notice of the Wells Fargo building, which is located at 245 N. Main Street, after the bank closed. It's centrally located site downtown was especially appealing. But another buyer apparently had the same thoughts.
"Wells Fargo sold the property quickly, and we originally missed the potential opportunity to buy the building at that time. The buyer purchased it for a specific purpose, but their plans have since changed," Mathiesen said. "When I learned this, I asked if the building would be re-sold, and the owner indicated he might consider selling it."
So the building was back in city council conversations with discussions about remodeling it into a police station, but not necessarily a city hall.
"Based on our space needs analysis, the building is not large enough to house both city hall and the police station," Mathiesen noted.
In addition to the architectural components the city has to consider, other hurdles include necessary studies for meeting lending and grant requirements.
"Any property we consider will have to be certified to not be in the 500-year flood plain; will have to go through an environmental study; and if we are converting an existing structure, it will have to have a seismic needs assessment completed," Mathiesen said.
This ongoing quest began in May of 2016 when structural engineers assessed the condition of Mount Angel City Hall. The report cited structural deficiencies to the extent that retrofitting the building proved too expensive to consider.
Doug Meltzer of MSC Engineering in Salem apprised the city of the building's condition; necessary retrofitting work included a new roof, ADA access and updated wiring, expensive safety-standard repairs that still would not resolve the building's other issues.
Early in 2017 Mount Angel City Council highlighted exploring options for new city hall and police facilities, and to continue planning and community outreach efforts as part of the process.
Paul Boundy of LRS Architects in Portland, presented the council with a conceptual plans for building a new city hall and police facility. Those plans envisioned a two-story, half-block facility near the current city hall, between Garfield and Cleveland streets, south of Church Street. He also presented plans for a full-block, one-story option.
The total estimated cost of the two-story, half-block options was just under $9.8 million; the full-block option was roughly $9.4 million.
After the presentations the city prepared a report on funding options, which included bonds, loans, grants or some combination of the three. To date the city council has not determined which option, if any, it would pursue.