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Poulsbo's spacious, high tech city hall nears completion

Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson takes in the view from the third floor of Poulsbo
Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson takes in the view from the third floor of Poulsbo's new city hall during a building tour. The new city hall is slated to open mid-November.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

POULSBO — The final elements of Poulsbo's new city hall are coming together as officials plan a mid-November move-in.

The interior of the three-story, 30,000-square-foot structure is colored with hues of red, black and sandstone. It contains rain-absorbing green roofs, motion-sensing lights, sound absorbing ceiling tiles and a computerized locking system.

A curved council dais backed by smooth wood paneling is one of the most recent installations, in the building's council chambers.

"This is not a 50-year building, this is a lifetime building," said Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson during a tour of the new city hall on Tuesday. "You're going to see very large spaces here, it's a very big building."

A final cost won't be known until the project is complete, though Erickson said change orders throughout construction were lower than expected at about $240,000. A large portion of those went to road improvements, which weren't funded by the project's $15.8 million budget, she said.

The council chambers seat 105 people — compared to 69 in the current city hall — and are situated on the lower level across from municipal court space. The second floor houses planning, public works and engineering departments as well as the site of the future Poulsbo Historical Society museum. The mayor, finance department and city clerk's office are on the top floor. Each level contains a conference room, private offices and open areas where modular work stations — or cubicles — will be built.

Unlike other private office doors, Erickson's holds a large pane of glass, a compromise with designers, she said, so she doesn't have to remove the door completely, in the name of open government, like she has in her current office on Jensen Way.

The portions of the building meant for public use were designed with appealing fixtures, such as black granite floors and large window columns, while office spaces were kept simple, said Public Works Director Barry Loveless.

Crews are still completing the new council chambers, installing cabinets and finishing walls and floors. Furniture assembly and IT installations are expected to begin mid-October and last up to three weeks.

A competitive bidding climate created some turbulence at the worksite, where four subcontractors went out of business and left the contractor, JTM Construction, clambering to find replacements. That led to delays, putting the city in its new home roughly two months later than planned.

At least some of the cost related to such delays will be absorbed by the contractor, Loveless said.

He estimated 20 different subcontractors have worked on the project since its beginning in May 2009.

Erickson is drafting a letter of offer to Bainbridge Island leaders, who are considered relocating the island's municipal court to Poulsbo's new building. The move would save money for both cities, but will only happen if it benefits all involved.

"It's got to work for Bainbridge Island, it's got to work for us," Erickson said.

The partnership would fill a void left by the Kitsap County District Court, which recently closed its Poulsbo office. The county must still pay $1.2 million for the space, according to a contractual agreement.

A portion of the third floor originally designed as a lunch room and mayor's office was reworked into 1,350 square feet of leasable space. Erickson said she made the change by cutting down excess storage on other floors.

The space is still for rent, and the city is looking to sell or lease three other properties to help pay the cost of the new building.

There have been a few showings of the city's current city hall site, for sale at $1.25 million, real estate broker Mark Danielsen reported to the City Council earlier this month. A local party has shown interest in purchasing and preserving the undeveloped Klingle property on Second Avenue, and a small church is considering renting space in the Parks and Recreation building on Front Street for about $1,700 a month, he reported.

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