Benton's City Hall will soon be moving, as its aging building verges on a "disintegrating status," according to Mayor Fred Kondritz.
The current home for Benton’s City Council and police department, at 500 W. Main St., is stuck in the past on all fronts, Kondritz said.
“People are used to seeing the drab, awful-looking area when they think of City Hall,” he said. “This is how it’s been for too long."
Kondritz wants to swap the 60-year-old building for a more appealing and modern address. He’s got his eye on a 6,000-square-foot office space in the Hiramoti Building, at 402 W. Main St.
The city, along with the Benton Police Department, is slated to make a move in February.
“We’re getting a better bang for our buck and a tremendously reduced cost,” Kondritz said. “We didn’t want to sink that much money into an already vintage building.”
When Kondritz stepped into the mayor’s office for the first time in May, there was no Internet set up for the office. The flat roof often leaks, the windows aren’t energy efficient and bathrooms are not up to code. There is also a "non-compliant" mechanical room, according to an engineer's report from June.
"The bottom line is that it's not energy efficient and it's decades behind where we need to be," he said. "It's time for a fresh start."
Much-need repairs to the existing structure would've cost an estimated $1.9 million, and building a new facility from the ground up came with a similar price tag.
Last week, the city got an offer from the Hiramoti Office Building, which measures 20,000 square feet and houses government offices for the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Probation and Parole.
“We chose that because having our presence on Main Street is important,” Kondrtiz said. “We are still negotiating and we have things to iron out, but we’re in the process of making it happen.”
In the coming months, the Hiramoti building's owner will start construction to make room for city officials, including a new entrance and a glassed-in area for police offices.
The police department and city have shared their current space since the 1970s, so they weren't ready to split ways.
“We wanted to stay in the same office, because it’s centrally located, which is good for the police because they can get to any part of the city within minutes,” he said.
As for the existing City Hall, Kondritz hopes to sell it to someone with the resources to buy the building and improve it. The building is currently is being appraised, a process that can take four to six weeks.
“It’s a fresh start,” Kondritz said. “We need to have the look of a modern business, so we can have that appeal for taxpayers and the citizens of Benton, and make it better for whoever comes after us.”