Tacoma’s city hall could be a dusty place over the next few months.
A set of construction projects meant to modernize some of the most-used parts of city government’s headquarters is due to begin this week. The work will continue through September.
A third would renovate a shower and locker area for city employees so more of them are willing to consider commuting without cars.
Altogether, they’re expected to cost about $1.5 million, including a technology upgrade for the local TV station that broadcasts City Council meetings. The projects would touch up parts of the Tacoma Municipal Building that have been mostly unchanged since about 1980.
The first project, costing $357,000, would develop a customer service center on the building’s Market Street level. It is intended to be a space for people to pay license fees and meet with city employees instead of asking residents to find their way to different parts of the building.
It’s also part of a two-year program designed to improve security that has to some extent limited access to the Municipal Building’s upper floors.
Six city employees would work there when it’s finished, said Tacoma Public Works Facilities Division Manager Justin Davis.
“We’re just really trying to consolidate where our public interactions occur, and with that provide a better level of support to our customers,” he said.
The council chambers are next in the queue with a $201,000 renovation of walls, carpets and the council dais. They’re cosmetic changes designed to freshen up the chambers before TV Tacoma adds high-definition capabilities to the cameras it uses to film council meetings.
“There’s no way we wanted to see council chambers look like grandma’s living room,” Davis said.
The city has another $400,000 to spend on technology upgrades for TV Tacoma and the chambers, potentially making the room more useful for other kinds of presentations.
A January memo from City Manager T.C. Broadnax said weekly council meetings will move to the Tacoma Public Utilities auditorium at 3628 S. 35th St. during construction on the chambers. That period likely would run from the first week of July through Sept. 15.
Lastly, the city is spending $567,000 to build eight shower rooms in the basement of Tacoma Municipal Building North, a city facility that is adjacent to the main offices on Market Street.
Davis said the project improves stalls built in 1980 and responds to an employee survey that suggested more of them would bike to work if they had better showers. About 450 city employees work in the Tacoma Municipal Building and its annex.