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Justice Center transforming into 'de facto city hall'
With the "interim" pulled from its title months ago, the city of Bonney Lake has begun to make improvements to the Justice Center that should turn it into a "de facto city hall," according to city administrator Don Morrison.
"The council decided to move people over here rather than try to lease it out," Morrison said, referring to the original plans to lease out part of the building as office space.
"We're losing the lease potential, but it's not leased out now," he said.
Tenant improvements are presently under way at the 22,000-square-foot building with a completion date of late February or early March.
According to Morrison, administrative services, including the city clerk's office, will move to the first floor space at the Justice Center, originally intended for a coffee shop or other pedestrian-friendly business.
The second-floor space, which was completely unfinished until recently, will become home to the city's finance department, including utility billing. A service window is being installed to accept payments.
The third floor will be transformed into the city's permit center and planning department.
Mayor Neil Johnson said he is looking forward to getting staff together in one building, which he said will make the city more efficient, as well as easier for residents to get the services they need.
"It's all the things you want in one facility," Johnson said. "It's better for the citizens all the way around."
With administrative services and finance headed from the current city hall, on Bonney Lake Boulevard, to the Justice Center, Public Works will move into the old building.
The city's public works yard is located behind city hall and the move gets the rest of the department closer to the yard.
With planning and public works moving out of the city hall annex, plans for that building are also being made.
Morrison said half of that building is a leased modular office that is leased at a month-to-month cost of $1,200 per month. As employees move out of the annex, Morrison said the hope is to end the lease and potentially lease the stick-built part of the building.
The Justice Center was originally designed to allow the city to lease out much of the space, but Johnson said the signage requirements of many businesses that may be interested conflict with the city's sign code, making it difficult to entice would-be lessees to the building.
"What we hear from everybody is they need more signage," Johnson said.
Instead, Johnson said the council and administration feel the best way to utilize the space is filling it with city staff.
According to Morrison, the cost of the tenant improvements for the city is estimated to be $740,212.
Morrison said the improvements and staff moves should be completed by March 1.