London council okays second try on city hall project

(Posted June 10, 2017)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

London city officials are taking a second crack at bidding out a $1.6 million project to renovate a former school building into a one-stop shop for city offices.

The plan is to renovate the former London City Schools property at 60 S. Walnut St. to house nearly all city departments under one roof. Currently, departments are spread out in multiple buildings around the city.

With their first attempt last year, the city handled the bidding process in-house. They received two bids that were difficult to compare against one another and against what the city wanted done.

“We didn’t get the expected results,” said city council member Rex Castle. “The bids were vague in certain areas… Neither spelled out exactly what we wanted to see.”

This time, the city has hired DLZ Ohio Inc., an architecture and engineering consulting firm, to handle the bidding process. DLZ is writing up the bid specifics, sending out the request for proposals, and will review the submitted bids to see how they align with the city’s wishes.

“They will help us interpret what we get back so we know we’re making the right decision,” Castle said.

Council approved DLZ’s contract on June 1 in a 5-1 vote; council member Lora Long cast the lone “no” vote. The cost of DLZ’s services is not to exceed $12,000.

If council receives satisfactory bids and decides to move forward with the project, bonds will be issued to finance the work. The loan terms have not yet been set. Castle estimates the payments would be $100,000 to $120,000 a year.

The first priority would be to replace the building’s boilers with a more efficient heating system before this winter, Castle continued. Currently, The rest of the renovations would take place over the winter with a goal of moving into the finished space in spring or summer of next year.

Kmart Building

According to Mayor Pat Closser, a developer is in negotiations to purchase the vacant Kmart building on Lafayette Street.

“He reached out to me, wanting to know what type of businesses might be a good fit for London in that space,” Closser said.

Closser and David Kell, executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, met with the developer on June 5 to further discuss possibilities.

“That empty property has been a thorn in my side and one of the most asked questions I get,” Closser said. “Hopefully, the contract will be signed and we can start breathing some new life into that building.”

Movies by Moonlight

The city hosted its first free outdoor movie night at Cowling Park on June 2. Five more nights are left in the series:

  • June 16—“Sing,” sponsored by London Kiwanis Club;
  • June 30—“The LEGO Batman Movie,” sponsored by Downtown London Association;
  • July 14—“The Avengers,” sponsored by United Way;
  • July 28—“Alice in Wonderland,” sponsored by London Rib & Jazz Fest;” and
  • Aug. 11—“Inside Out,” sponsored by PAX.

Each event starts at 8 p.m. with showtime at dusk. In the event of bad weather, movies will be shown in the gymnasium at the Community Center, 40 S. Walnut St.

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