Figuring out how to pay for renovations to City Hall West returns to the City Council on Monday, nearly a year since a citizens’ committee formally recommended future uses for the historic structure.
Last November, the City Council approved replacing the building’s windows — a $320,000 repair needed to prevent further damage — but gave no long-term direction for other exterior or interior renovations. The city staff is back asking for direction.
Council members could choose from one of three options for renovation, ranging from $3.7 million to meet basic needs to $5.7 million for a full restoration and new uses, such as a theater and public meeting rooms.
Or, council members could ask the city staff to seek a public-private partnership for the building’s renovation and future use.
The building was erected in 1927 as City Hall. The city jail and fire station were included with the offices and council chambers. The building’s tiled roof and elaborate embellishments echo architectural details of the Spanish missions of South Texas, a style common in other Texas cities but not in Denton.
The city entertained a proposal from developer to include City Hall West as part of a larger redevelopment project several years ago, but talks broke down after the prospect of selling the historic building proved unpopular. The building is both a state and local landmark.
From the 1990s until 2016, City Hall West was home to the city’s planning departments. Those departments moved into leased office space to make room for renovations.
Last month, the City Council bought another building from Denton ISD to provide those departments a permanent home, once it is renovated. The building, 401 N. Elm St., cost $4.5 million and is just one block north of City Hall West.
The city hired Architexas, a Dallas- and Austin-based firm with extensive experience in historic preservation and adaptive reuse, to help with the project. Architexas worked on the renovation of the Denton County Courthouse on the Square and also worked on the Collin County Courthouse, which also dates from 1927.
The firm helped assess the current condition of City Hall West. The city received approval from the Texas Historical Commission for the window repairs, which are underway, according to Assistant City Manager Sara Hensley.