Several interior areas of Palo Alto City Hall will be remodeled to add new, modern public meeting spaces, as well as enhanced customer service areas under a contract going to the City Council for approval on June 16. The remodel will include transforming the east side of the City Hall lobby into a community conference room with a capacity to seat 55 to better serve larger Council Committee and Commission meetings, and to be more accommodating for the public. The current Council conference room where numerous public meetings take place, has a capacity of 23, and lacks flexible seating, adequate lighting and up-to-date audio visual capabilities.
In addition, the Utilities Department customer service and water and energy efficiency counters currently located on the second and third floors will be moved to the first floor next to the existing Revenue Collection office in order to better serve the community. It will become a "one stop shop" where community members can open or close residential and commercial accounts, pay their utility bill, create an online account, apply for efficiency rebates, and access other utility account service needs.
While City Hall has undergone exterior refurbishing, as well as mechanical and electrical upgrades, the interior areas have remained largely unchanged. For example, the existing carpet and bench seating in the City Council chambers have been in place since 1999, and will be replaced and reupholstered as part of the overall remodel. It is anticipated the upgrades to City Hall will be phased in with the majority of work on the first floor to be completed within 90 days following contract approval.
There will also be a new interactive public art display associated with the lobby remodel, as well as other enhancements including upgraded elevator cabs, reconfigured mezzanine and second floor offices, as well as new directional signage for the entire Civic Center area.
In 2012, the City Council approved an initial contract for design with WMB Architects that was limited to renovating the Council Conference Room. However since that time, it became apparent that the first floor renovation would need to be broader in scope to achieve a more open government atmosphere to encourage public participation and enhanced customer services.
The Council will consider awarding a contract for $2.7 million to D.L. Falk Construction as the lowest responsible bidder; approving an amendment of $141,565 with WMB Architects and adoption of a Budget Amendment Ordinance to provide additional appropriations of $1.6 million. Funding for the estimated cost of the expanded scope was included in the 2014 capital budget. The additional funding provided by the Budget Amendment Ordinance will pay for enhanced audio visual equipment, the public art component, and construction administration, as well as increased construction costs resulting from the current busy construction environment.