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Ashland will reconsider knocking down City Hall building for improvement projects

Mayor John Stromberg wants to revisit the idea of demolishing the historic City Hall building, which was originally a part of the $10.6 million bond proposal.

Posted: Mar 3, 2020 4:52 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. — The Ashland City Council will revisit a proposal to knock down and build a new City Hall in the downtown Plaza at Mayor John Stromberg's request, according to the latest Council agenda.

In early January, the City Council met to discuss a $10.6 million proposal to demolish and rebuild the aging City Hall structure, in addition to updating several other Ashland-owned buildings and features. At the time, Mayor Stromberg's recommendation included a complete rebuild of City Hall rather than attempting to retrofit the existing structure.

That proposal meant getting enough support from voters to pass a 20-year bond that would cost Ashland homeowners 26 cents per $1,000 in assessed value.

In February, the chair of Ashland's Historic Commission read a letter to City officials begging them to consider City Hall's "historical value" — asking that the old building, constructed in 1891, be improved and updated instead of being demolished.

Since then, Mayor Stromberg has decided to bring the issue back to City Council for consideration.

"The demolition process has been reassessed by staff in light of this project and would likely be long, complicated, and possibly unsuccessful," city administrator Kelly Madding said in the agenda.

According to Madding's report, a retrofit would cost about the same amount as demolition of the old building and construction of  a new one.

Nonetheless, a new summary of the proposed bond has since gone down in price. The newest proposal concerns $8.2 million in general obligation bonds for the project, costing homeowners about 21 cents per $1,000 in assessed value.

"Because construction costs are rising faster than inflation, postponing these three projects until a future election would likely result in higher constant-dollar costs and would not necessarily avoid the need for bonding in the future," Madding wrote.

The Ashland City Council meets again on Tuesday night at 6 p.m., and the City Hall proposal is on the agenda for discussion.

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