The Town Council Municipal Building

The majority of Town Council decided to soent $15 million now to renovate Municipal 1 Building, commonly called town hall, rather than spend twice as much in 10 years. (File photo)

Gilbert is moving forward on an estimated $15.4 million renovation of its Municipal 1 Building, commonly called Town Hall because it houses the Council Chambers, administrative offices, including the leadership team and the Town Clerk.

Council recently approved change orders that came with increases in the contracts for the project’s architect and construction manager despite objection from Councilman Jared Taylor.

“I think there is probably a more efficient use of some of these dollars than what we have here,” he said at the Dec. 5 meeting.

 “I know the town is growing and we have a bit more needs but I’m just not sure what we are doing is in line with how we wanted to keep that cost in a box,” Taylor added.

Mayor Jenn Daniels said the town has an opportunity to re-invest in the building to meet future needs.

“This isn’t for today’s needs,” she said. “This is planning for tomorrow’s needs, which as we know comes pretty quickly in the Town of Gilbert as we continue to grow.”

Daniels said the town is expected to reach build-out in about a decade with a population of 330,000. The town’s head count was estimated at 248,279 in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

She said if the town spends the money now for the remodel, it won’t have to do it in 10 years.

“This building is more than 20 years old now and is not currently meeting the needs,” she said. “The original plan was to have this building and then to phase in a second building on this site.”

Daniels said it would cost the town less to renovate the existing building than to build a new one later on.

“I realize we might be planning for build-out but that’s our job,” she said.

The council voted 5-2 for the change orders with Taylor and Councilwoman Aimee Yentes opposed.

The renovation project is currently in design with construction expected to take place from December 2020 to December 2021, according to town spokeswoman Jennifer Harrison.

“The entire building will be renovated, including replacing or upgrading the exterior glass, HVAC systems, roofing, flooring, fixtures and furniture,” she said in an email “The existing balcony on the north side of the second story will also be enclosed to gain more floor space for employees.”

The project will add about 1,000 square feet to the building by enclosing the second-floor balcony, according to Harrison. 

“The renovations, along with new furniture, will allow the building to accommodate approximately 40 additional workstations,” she said.

The renovation will offset the need for a new building in the future, she added.

“Without these renovations, the building will be at capacity within a few years,” she said. 

“Staff did look into the possibility of building a new structure, which would cost approximately $30 million,” Harrison added. “Renovating the Municipal I building is a more cost-effective solution.”

The projected $15.4 million for the renovation includes all costs for design and construction, as well as some minor renovations that took place last year.

The two-story, 50,000-square-foot Municipal building was completed in 1992 when the town’s population was 37,000.

It is the first of three main buildings on the town’s municipal campus, which includes a public safety complex for fire, police and courts and a second municipal building.