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Elsmere schedules open house Oct. 8 at Senior Center to present renderings for new City building

The City of Elsmere will hold an open house at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 at the Elsmere Senior Center to showcase its architectural renderings and plans for its new City Building that will be constructed next year on Dixie Highway.

Members of the Elsmere City Council, city staff, and the architect who designed the new city building will attend the open house at the senior center, which is located at 179 Dell Street, where they will unveil design plans and answer questions about the project.


City leaders, residents, and business owners have discussed constructing a larger, more modern, and more accommodating city building for many years, including in the Elsmere Strategic Plan, which was adopted by city council in 2016.

The new city building will house the city’s administrative offices, council chambers, and the police department in one building and also have an outdoor public area and ample public parking.

It will replace two buildings — the current city building located on Garvey Avenue and the police department building on Dixie Highway — both of which are no longer functional and fail to meet the city’s operational needs.

“Elsmere, its employees, elected officials, and most importantly, its residents have needed a new, more functional city building for years,” Mayor Marty Lenhof said. “The new building will have high visibility, easy accessibility, and expanded meeting space for the public to attend city council meetings. A major improvement for our residents will be the convenience of accessing city services and meeting with employees in one centralized location.”

The city will close on the purchase of the property, which is located at 3915-3925 Dixie Highway and 412 Cross Street, on Friday, Oct. 4. It is owned by JJH Investments, LLC, and formerly housed Sid’s Pharmacy, which closed many years ago.

Demolition work is expected to start in early 2020 and construction work on the new city building is expected to begin in the spring.
Architect D. Scott Noel of Summit Architectural Services in Lexington, Ky. designed the new city building.

The current city building and the police building have a combined area of 7,800 square feet. The new city building will have double that amount of square footage, including a larger city council chambers, Mayor Lenhof said.

The existing council chamber is cramped with seats for only about eight residents when city staff and cable TV technicians with their equipment attend the city council meetings.

The current Elsmere city building (shown here) and the police building have a combined area of 7,800 square feet. The new city building will have double that amount of square footage, including a larger city council chambers (provided photo)

City Administrator Matt Dowling said the city really had no choice but to construct a new municipal building rather than trying to renovate the old buildings.

“We had a facility study done by our architect, which showed it would cost approximately $1.3 million to make the capital improvements needed to bring these buildings up to code, which included installation of a new HVAC and electrical systems, new roofs, better accessibility for the disabled, and other capital improvements — and these repairs would not have improved the functionality of these buildings,” Dowling said.

Noel said that the cost to renovate the existing buildings to make them up to code and fully functional would have cost more than 80 percent of what the city is paying to build a new building.
“Any time the cost to remediate buildings exceeds 80 percent, it’s time to build new, especially when you can build a larger, more energy-efficient building,” Noel said.

The city is paying $600,000 for the real estate and it is expected to spend approximately $3.2 million to construct the new building, but that property cost will be offset when the city sells the old city building and the police station.

“We believe that the amount we get for these two properties could more than cover the land acquisition costs paid to JJH Investments for its properties,” Dowling said. “In addition, the sale of these two buildings to private businesses also will create new economic-development opportunities in our city.”

The city will pay for construction of the new city building through the issuance of municipal bonds. The city recently received Aa3 bond rating from Moody’s rating agency, a high-grade bond rating which will allow the city to receive very favorable interest rates.

Ross Sinclaire & Associates is the city’s financial adviser for the bond placement.

“The city will be able to repay these bonds through our existing revenues and existing budget funds” Lenhof said. “In fact, through the effective management of resources and tax dollars, for the second year in a row, the City of Elsmere lowered its property tax rate this year.”

Dowling said that the city looked at eight different properties before selecting the JJH Investment properties.

Among the factors the city considered when deciding what properties to purchase were high visibility and a central location in the city, removing existing blight, making sure the site was large enough for an adequate building and public parking, and displacing the fewest possible residents or businesses.

City of Elsmere

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