AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Tuesday, the City of Amarillo held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Amarillo City Hall at the old Amarillo Hardware Company building.
The Amarillo City Council approved the purchase of the Amarillo Hardware Company building, located in the 600 block of South Grant Street in November 2020. In April 2022, officials approved funding for the demolition of three warehouses at the location, which was noted as the next step in the process of moving City Hall to the site.
The warehouses were demolished in June 2022, as noted in previous reports on MyHighPlains.com, leaving the site open as a staging and a construction area that officials said would also function as a parking lot for the new facility.
Jerry Danforth, facilities manager for the City of Amarillo said that construction crews will start showing up for construction as early as this week and he said they anticipate it taking until about April of next year to be complete.
Danforth said there will be many unique features in the new city hall.
“We’ll actually have a drive-thru, like drive-thru banking on the north side of the building, where you can drive-thru there. You can tell the staff what you need and if they are capable of taking care of it at the drive-thru, no longer will you have to bring your whole family out of the vehicle to do business inside city hall, so there are some big advantages to that. Everything the public needs to do with city staff happens on the first floor, so they don’t have to wonder around multiple floors inside the building looking for who they need to talk to, the only exception of that will be that council chambers will still be on the third floor with a view in council chambers of downtown Amarillo,” said Danforth.
Danforth said when it came to plotting out the new city hall, it all came down to how to serve the public.
“Everything we’ve done in the design is all about customer service. Customer service, it’s the same plan that private industries use, what can we do to make it better for our citizens and so the design of the building lends itself to that,” said Danforth.
Danforth added the Amarillo Hardware building is twice the size of the current city hall and it gives them the opportunity to grow and expand within the structure.
“We will have between 50 to 60 thousand square feet of additional space in this building that we won’t build out and we will be able to lease it or build in it as the city grows and has additional needs,” said Danforth.
Mayor Ginger Nelson said the price tag to retrofit the current city hall was going to be more expensive than rehabbing the Amarillo Hardware building.
“I like the financial investment of reusing a building that’s here without tearing it down, without starting over from scratch… Not only did we keep a piece of history, but we also saved our taxpayers a lot of money,” said Mayor Nelson.
Mayor Nelson said this new city hall will address several issues that the current city hall is facing.
“Our existing building has a lot of structural problems. It’s not compliant with ADA, there are no ADA bathrooms. When Governor Abbott came in his wheelchair, he had to enter through the ramp in the basement where we unload and offload products into the building, there is just not good access for people who are in a wheelchair. But there are a lot of other issues, the plumbing in that building is completely rotted out, so we have plumbing issues regularly there and they don’t send a notice ahead of time, they just come when the pipe bursts. But we also have technology issues, that building was built long before we had internet or anything like that and we have some technology security issues that we can’t address in that building,” said Mayor Nelson.
Mayor Nelson added the current city hall needs to be torn down once the new city hall is constructed.
“It needs to be torn down because it has some structural issues as well as it can’t be repurposed or reused without addressing the ADA issues it has, the plumbing issues, and the lack of IT services that are existing,” said Mayor Nelson.
Not all members of the Amarillo City Council have been in favor of the new city hall, Amarillo Place One City Councilmember Cole Stanley has opposed the move.
At Stanley’s announcement that he was running for mayor, this is what he had to say regarding the groundbreaking, which he did not attend.
“Man, I wish them well… If I was given that center chair, I would be able to affect that city hall project very little because it’s kind of already passed and gone through and I think we are going to have to make the most of what we have there,” said Stanley.
Mayor Nelson said it’s important for the Amarillo City Council to be united in the future of Amarillo.
“Its fine for people to disagree on certain projects, but once the project has been approved by a majority of the council then its important to be behind, you can still ask questions about it, so I don’t know why we didn’t have all city council members here today, but my personal opinion is it’s important for the council to be united as they move forward,” said Mayor Nelson.
Mayor Nelson said there are no plans to put anything in place of the current Amarillo City Hall, once it is torn down, as the Amarillo Civic Center project did not move forward.
For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with MyHighPlains.com and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.