The paint’s dried, the floor’s finished and last-minute touches have begun as the city of Maitland starts its move into its bigger and better city hall this week.
Boxes are packed and ready in the current City Hall facility, just waiting to be moved to the new, double-the-size location just a sidewalk path away.
“It’s been a long time coming,” City Manager Jim Williams says, as he navigates the still-bare hallways and offices of the new three-story structure.
After a year of construction, and more than half a decade’s worth of planning, the city’s newest step toward downtown redevelopment is a few final touches away from being complete. Williams says the building is scheduled to open to the public on Monday, July 23, though that evening’s City Council meeting will still be held in the old chambers. The Aug. 13 meeting is the first slated for the new space.
It’s been seven years since residents approved a referendum that approved $8.5 million in bonds for a new city hall, fire station and police station. The city hall is the last of the three to rise. The fire station opened just feet away last year.
Maitland has been struggling to jumpstart its downtown revitalization, seeing two developers come and go over the last decade with no change to the four-block area. The new city hall, Mayor Howard Schieferdecker said, is the catalyst for the downtown. Several developers are working with the city on proposals for the area.
“The whole thing is basically starting our downtown,” Schieferdecker said. “It’s the kickoff to revitalizing our downtown.”
A new, sleek wooden dais sits in the front of the still construction equipment-filled Council chambers. Sunlight streams in the room from a wall’s worth of floor-to-ceiling windows — a stark comparison to the wood-paneled, windowless room where the Council currently operates.
“It’s light, bright and cheery,” Schieferdecker said. “A place that it’ll be really nice to work and meet in.”
Williams says the new chamber will nearly double the seating capacity, fitting roughly 130 to 140 people. And the chairs will all be removable, allowing the space to be utilized for other events than just city meetings.
The extra space the whole building offers allows the city to house all of its internal services under one roof, and, Schieferdecker says, also provides room for expansion once the economy picks back up and city staffing can grow.
To keep up to date with the finishing touches and progress of the new Maitland City Hall, which is located at the same address as the current building, 1776 Independence Lane, visit the city’s website, itsmymaitland.com
In coming months, the old city hall will be leveled and turned into a parking lot to accommodate more parking for city hall, its surrounding park and, once developed, the downtown Maitland area.
“It’s getting us and developers excited for the future,” Schieferdecker said.
Chuck Jordan, director of the city’s leisure services department, is working to organize a grand-opening ceremony for the new city hall, though he says no final date has been set. It will likely be sometime in late August, Schieferdecker said, so that any and all kinks can be worked out once the city is all moved into its new home.
“We’re all so excited about it … but we want to make sure everything is right.”