It started with a single dollar bill.
That’s all it took to launch an abandoned building into an opportunity for the city of Grand Ledge.
In 2011, administrators sold the building that formerly housed Greenwood Elementary School, located on Greenwood Street, to the City of Grand Ledge for $1. The action quickly sparked interest in a new city hall location, a search that has been ongoing for more than two decades, Mayor Kalmin Smith said.
Elected mayor in 2007, Smith said he’s made a new city hall a top priority since. The current building on Jefferson Avenue is so cramped Smith doesn’t have an office and the Grand Ledge Police Department is housed in the basement.
Smith said he is ready for the change. He expects the building’s completion to fall some time in January.
“The place is a complete dump,” Smith said. “It’s very crowded … and it’s not handicapped accessible. The (new) building will uplift the surrounding area.”
The cost effect
So far, the city has invested about $2.2 million in a renovation project for the Greenwood building. Workers are currently putting the finishing touch on the building’s interior: furniture and decoration.
Despite a few complications, the project is otherwise moving smoothly.
In a previous interview, project coordinator Brian Delaney said workers began discovering issues with the building that required invasive structure modification. As a result, council members voted to bump the budget from $2.19 million to $2.29 million.
A new beginning
City Administrator John Bayless said the delayed delivery of necessary equipment, such as a generator, also are holding up further progress.
In the end, though, he said the work will pay off. The building replaced its entire heating and cooling system the year before its closure, and its sheer size will benefit the city, Bayless said.
“The most significant thing is the (old building) has 8,000 square feet in it and the new building is 33,500,” Bayless said. “It’s substantially bigger, less crowded and more efficient (and) easier to work in.”
The new building will be split in half between city officials and the Grand Ledge Police station. Smith said the city hall also will include a gym, space for community activities and photos from the Grand Ledge Area Historical Society.
“There’s a lot of art with history that is in storage because there’s no place to display it,” he said. “People will be able to walk through there and get a sense of the community and what it’s all about.”
Grand Ledge City Council will hold its first meeting in the new City Hall on Jan. 13.
To see a graphic of City Hall spending, click here.