By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
Mayor Mark Eckert says Belleville saw progress in virtually every corner of the community this past year, but one of the most significant developments was the $5 million overhaul of City Hall.
“One of our biggest accomplishments in 2017 was getting our government center totally renovated,” he said.
The work to City Hall began in 2016 after the city moved its Police Department, which had been attached to the City Hall campus at 101 N. Illinois St., into a new, spacious building at 720 W. Main St. at a cost of $13.6 million.
Once the station moved, the city shifted City Hall personnel into other city properties so the serious effort of remodeling City Hall could take place.
“City Hall at 101 N. Illinois St. was never accessible for those with disabilities. It had a lot of stairs to get to it and it had revolving doors. If you were in a wheelchair, you were out of luck,” Eckert said. The city tore down a
building behind City Hall so that people could access City Hall from that side.
A year’s worth of construction made the structure ADA compliant, abated all asbestos, lowered counters, added bathrooms and redid council chambers. A new roof was installed and parking lot added. HVAC, electrical and boiler were upgraded or replaced.
“We really worked hard to keep the integrity of the Charles King midcentury architecture,” the mayor said of the building first opened in 1959.
Safety and security were also addressed with the addition of bulletproof glass, metal detector, alarm system and cameras. Many technology improvements were made to the building, including TV presentation monitors in council chambers.
The general contractor was Fairview Heights-based IMPACT Strategies, which worked with The Lawrence Group Architects of St. Louis.
The old police station at City Hall is still gutted, and a redesign needs to be done. The mayor’s intent is to have an elevator installed, and that is already roughed in. When the rest of that space is done, the city’s health and housing department would be located on the first floor, and the second floor would be devoted to economic development and engineering. Those departments are in temporary offices at 407 E. Lincoln St., a building the city could then sell.
The mayor estimated renovation costs of the old station at more than $600,000.
“We’ll have most of our city services under one campus,” Eckert said. “It is our hope that it will be 18 months to two years, but we’ll get it done.”
Meanwhile, the mayor pointed to a number of positive developments including restaurants and other businesses anticipated in the coming months.
In addition, streetscape improvements will extend from where they now end on West Main at Sixth Street all the way to 17th Street, he said. New sidewalks, lampposts and sewer work are all planned starting this spring.