A nearly $140 million project to enhance Richardson’s municipal complex is expected to make the library and City Hall more user friendly for residents.

The project is necessary because of the age of the library and an August 2022 fire that damaged the old City Hall.

Richardson City Manager Don Magner said the new City Hall layout should allow for city business to occur more orderly.

“Being able to start anew and have departments that collaborate on a daily basis in one area ... will go a long way for our [operational] efficiency,” Magner said.

Library Director Jennifer Davidson added that the new library layout has the potential to expand outdoor programming with larger events.

What's happening

Funds from the 2021 and 2023 bonds, insurance proceeds, and project savings will be used to rebuild the municipal campus. Renovations began in March at the library while work on the new City Hall is set to start in November.

The end goal is creating a new campus with a more urban, modern feel, Magner said. He added that the first floor of the building will house all customer-facing departments, such as permitting and utility billing, which should improve the public’s interaction with certain city functions.

Davidson said work at the library includes expanding the children’s and teen sections, adding a teen hangout area, and adding a new drive-up book drop-off. Updates to building infrastructure are also planned, she said.

Why it matters

Once the new building is complete, Davidson said there will be interior design choices that more easily allow library staff to change the layout inside the building or move around various sections.

“The upcoming improvements to the library promise to enhance its functionality and appeal to patrons of all ages,” Davidson said.

Friends of the Library, an organization that supports staff, the community and the Richardson Public Library, plans to use the new basement space to host its book sale, President Barbara Read said.

“We anticipate the renovated facility will attract new faces at the library, some who will be interested in becoming Friends of the Library volunteers,” Read said in an email.

Longtime Richardson resident Jeff Carruth said he is happy to see the municipal complex staying put.

“I’ve gone to a lot of stuff there, and it gives it a lot of cohesion that it’s going to be in the same place,” Carruth said.

Zooming in

With the changes to the municipal campus layout, the library hopes to utilize the new fountain plaza, including outdoor story times, Davidson said.

She added staff are also excited for other changes such as a larger storytime room with a puppet stage and exclusive study rooms in the teen area.

“Addressing a longstanding request, the installation of a convenient drive-up book drop stands out as a testament to the library's commitment to enhancing user experience,” Davidson said.

The library has been in its current location since 1970. Magner said a deliberate decision was made to have only a single library, which makes it a significant landmark in the city.

Carruth said he is happy to see the library remain in the same space because he has fond memories of past programs that he's is hopeful staff will continue to maintain it into the future.

“The renovated building will support how the library and its services adapt to the future,” Read said.

What they're saying

“The civic campus can set the tone from an investment and aesthetic standpoint for private development to follow," said Don Magner, Richardson city manager.

“The increased space provides room for the library’s collections to expand and evolve alongside emerging technologies," said Jennifer Davidson, Richardson library director.

What's next?

Magner said the area around the municipal complex is an identified economic reinvestment area. City officials will look to identify development along West Arapaho Road near US 75 that will complement the city’s investment in the new municipal complex.

“What we do on the corner can be tone-setting and could [further] the redevelopment of the Arapaho corridor,” Magner said.