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Huntsville Ala.'s New $80M, Seven-Story City Hall Project Set to Finish in Mid-2024

Wed April 19, 2023 - Southeast Edition
AL.com


This rendering shows how the new City Hall will look from a bird’s-eye view. The project will span an entire block and include a seven-story parking deck. (Rendering courtesy of Goodwyn Mills Cawood)
This rendering shows how the new City Hall will look from a bird’s-eye view. The project will span an entire block and include a seven-story parking deck. (Rendering courtesy of Goodwyn Mills Cawood)

The transformation of downtown Huntsville, Ala., is gradually progressing as its new city hall reaches higher into the sky.

After $80 million and two years of construction, the structure will be seven floors high and among the tallest buildings in the Rocket City. For now, though, the second year of work is just getting started so Huntsville's transitioning into the new building across the street from the Madison County Courthouse will not be complete until the summer of 2024.

"This is a legacy project," Ricky Wilkinson, director of the city's general services department, told Al.com in early April. "It's been amazing, just seeing it come out of the ground."

Wilkinson, whose department oversees the work being done by Turner Construction, added that what never fails to impress him is coming downtown from Interstate 565 and suddenly seeing the frame of the building rising up.

Huntsville Has Outgrown Old City Hall

For all the feel-goods, though, the new Huntsville City Hall project is steeped in practicality and will fulfill an urgent need.

The city's administrative offices are housed in the slender, eight-story building across Fountain Circle from the new structure. But the current office building is approaching 60 years old and has more wrinkles than a structure of its age should have.

Once the move into the new city hall is complete next year, the older building will be demolished and cleared away so that the site can be added to the adjacent Big Spring Park.

Huntsville — Alabama's largest as of 2021 with an estimated population of more than 220,000 people — has also outgrown the current city hall space. As a result, municipal offices are scattered haphazardly throughout the building, which can make it both frustrating and inefficient for citizens who need to interact with certain offices.

Instead, the new city hall will be a "one-stop shop," Wilkinson said, echoing descriptions by other municipal leaders in describing the project.

"We'll make things much more efficient," he elaborated. "You don't have to worry about showing up at this building and then [people there saying] you've actually got to go down the street."

Additionally, Huntsville's new city hall will bring more than 350 city employees together in one place, Wilkinson told the Alabama online news source, and allow the city to end leases at various spots around town. Those leases amounted to about $365,000 annually, he noted.

Work to Begin On New City Hall Parking Deck

Al.com reported that the construction itself is nearing a milestone as a topping-out celebration is being planned for some time in May.

In April, the façade was put in place on the first two floors as were the exterior glass and framing. Concrete work also is ongoing on the top floor.

Like any large building project, though, the construction has had its "hiccups," Wilkinson noted. For instance, the crew taking down the old city hall parking deck — where the new building is currently being erected — encountered more rock than expected. But, he added, that provided benefits to the construction, too.

"[It] was great for the foundation," he told Al.com. "It took time, obviously, to chip out the rock, but we did not have to drill caissons, knowing that the bedrock was that close."

Wilkinson said that the building's completion is expected during the spring of 2024, but moving in will take several weeks to finish after that.

"It won't be a weekend move," he told Al.com.

Work has not yet started on the 568-space parking deck that will accompany Huntsville's new city hall. It also will be seven levels, though not as tall as the municipal building, and will include public parking.




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