Richardson officials are expected to have residents vote on funding a new City Hall during the upcoming general election, according to discussion at a Jan. 23 City Council meeting.

Richardson City Manager Don Magner said a new City Hall building would provide a number of benefits.

“It would allow us to address site utilities, be at least 15% more cost effective from an operation standpoint and give us a leg up on attracting and retaining talent," Magner said.

Richardson officials plan to present a general obligation bond order that would help pay for a potential new City Hall at the Feb. 13 City Council meeting. If approved, residents would vote on a $48 million bond program in the May 6 general election, according to Magner.

A $22.4 million renovation project for City Hall was authorized by voters as part of the 2021 bond election to enhance the building, including restroom renovations and second-floor office improvements. However, a fire occurred Aug. 22, 2022, on the first floor of City Hall that caused structural and infrastructure damage, forcing Richardson officials to relocate services to other facilities.

The 84,000-square-foot City Hall, which was built in 1980, was cited in a 2020 Master Plan to have several deficiencies, including being overcrowded; health and life-safety code concerns; lack of security; and aging mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

Magner outlined two paths for rebuilding after the fire: continuing with an updated renovation project or constructing a new City Hall facility.

An updated version of the City Hall project would increase total base construction costs—which include construction, furniture, fixtures and soft costs—by over $10 million to $32.7 million. In addition, other costs would force the budget to grow to $60 million, including additional renovations due to fire damage, relocation expenses and escalation due to fire delay. Despite an expected $15 million insurance claim for the damaged City Hall, Magner said the city would need to fund an additional $23 million to complete the renovation project through the use of certificate of obligation bonds, which does not require voter approval.

To fund the renovation project or construct a new City Hall, Richardson was granted approval by the Texas Attorney General office to access the initial $22.4 million from the 2021 bond project, according to Magner.

Magner recommended an $85 million project to build a new City Hall on the same site. The estimated 95,000-square-foot City Hall, if approved, would be located on the existing site across from the Richardson Public Library at the corner of West Arapaho Road and North Central Expressway.

If approved, construction on a new City Hall building is scheduled to begin in summer 2024 and is expected to be completed by summer 2026.

“I favor moving forward with [a new City Hall],” Council Member Bob Dubey said. “The math works [out]; the logic behind [it is] fresh; and having new, clean everything makes a lot of sense.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that a new City Hall would make operations 15% more cost effective.