STOCKTON, Calif. — The city of Stockton’s plans for its new city hall began at an estimated cost of $25 million in 2017. Now with the supply chain shortages and rising construction costs in the nation’s post-pandemic economy, that repair estimate has jumped to $75 million.
The decision was made following a city council meeting last week where construction plans years in the making were approved.
“Earlier this month on the 3rd of May, Council approved the construction contract,” Connie Cochran, Community Relations Officer for the city of Stockton said. “That was a huge milestone because by approving a contract with a company to begin construction, that means we've got a stake in the ground, and we can now move forward with plans.”
The decision to move buildings was mainly due to the aged infrastructure of the historic city hall that has caused a number of safety issues for city staff.
“These buildings are just old and really hard to maintain,” Cochran said. “They have a lot of problems including the fact that we lost our heating system last winter.”
According to Cochran, this, as well as a number of other factors, lead to the city’s decision to purchase the Waterfront Towers to house a new city hall.
However, the buildings that were bought still maintained a number of issues that required the necessary funding to repair.
“So new elevator systems, new plumbing, obviously all of the information technology (IT) infrastructure that needs to be there to support all of the employees, a heating and air conditioning system needs to be replaced as well as the suppression or fire sprinklers,” Cochran said. “All of those are very big ticket items and then of course we will be building, ultimately, a council chamber that will need to be moved over there.”
The drastic increase in price will not have any severe impact on any integral parts of the city’s budget, according to Cochran, as the majority of the funding will come from leasing relief and city reserves in anticipation of the project.
“We all are dealing with supply shortages and so I'm aware of the things that builders are going through right now,” Mike Huber, executive director of the Downtown Stockton Alliance (DSA). “As a taxpayer, I'm not happy with the additional increases in the rehab of the New City Hall, but I'm understanding of it.”
DSA is a non-profit organization responsible for the beatification and promotion of economic growth and development in Downtown Stockton.
Huber said he believes city workers are long overdue for a new space, and advocates for the large scale project despite the raise in cost.
According to Cochran, construction will last at least a couple years before any department can be moved into the new building. There are not yet any plans for what will be made of historic city hall.
“I would like to see a museum there to be honest with you,” said Huber. “I think it would be a perfect spot to have some of Stockton's great things put down, and we've only got one museum in town.”
In light of the excitement for the big move, the city hopes to find a way to preserve the old building in a meaningful way.
“This is a very important building for the Community and it's a historic building, but clearly it will need a lot of work no matter what it is used for and that's why we're moving out,” Cochran said.
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