OLYMPIA - Olympia's new City Hall quietly opened to the public Monday, ahead of a grand opening celebration scheduled for March 26.
A steady stream of customers trickled in all day to the building at 601 Fourth Ave. E., to pay parking tickets and meet with city staff.
“I’m pleasantly surprised, I guess you could say,” said Rich Christian, a local architect, who came down to pay a parking ticket. He was initially skeptical of the design, and remains critical of the choice of building materials.
“Actually, it’s much nicer than it appears from the outside.”
Victoria Dorman of Olympia stopped by to pick up a residential parking permit, because she’s moving to downtown. “I think it’s really beautiful,” she said. “The Council Chambers look really, really nice. The service was fast and efficient.”
Jay Burney, interim assistant city manager for special projects, said the final move from the old City Hall to the new one this past weekend went smoothly.
“Everything’s up and running,” he said. “We’re really pleased with what we’ve got.”
What the city has is a fourstory, 89,000-square-foot building that combines functions from eight different buildings into one. The city agreed to pay $35.6 million to the project team, Hoffman Construction of Seattle and Belay Architecture of Tacoma, for construction. The total price isn’t in yet, but Burney expects it to be in the neighborhood of $50 million.
The old City Hall, at 900 Plum St. S.E., will be renovated into the new municipal court complex at a cost of up to $200,000.
Though the new building is a new place to do business, Monday was a pretty typical day, said Brian Wilson, a member of the new building’s five-member customer service team.
“I expected a lot of people to be going over to the old to be going over to the old City Hall,” he said. “We’re excited to show it for them.”
There are still a few minor hitches before the building is fully utilized. The Community Planning and Developing department was closed Monday; Burney said the city needed more time to get everything in place. It opens today.
And there will be no regularly scheduled Tuesday council meeting in the chambers today. Next week’s council meeting will actually be in the old City Hall, the last council meeting in those chambers. After that, the council is taking two weeks off, during which the audiovisual equipment from the old building will be moved to the new one.
The first City Council meeting in the new building will be April 12.
“We’re open for business and excited to be in our new home,” Burney said.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org