Jul 29, 2014

Details Emerge on Design of New Dearborn City Hall

Expect to see an open layout and centralized services.

Details Emerge on Design of New Dearborn City Hall

A picture of what Dearborn's new city hall could look like is starting to develop.

Mike Kirk of Neumann-Smith Architecture met with Dearborn City Council Thursday to discuss details of the design for the building. This includes both how city departments will be structured, as well as how the layout will serve both city employees and residents.

The city purchased the former ADP building in May of 2012, with the intent to make it their new administrative home. The two-story office building sits just west of the Henry Ford Centennial Library, at 16901 Michigan Ave.

Drawings presented by Kirk on Thursday show that Dearborn's new city hall could function more like a business, with residents being assisted at one main "lobby" area and then directed to the appropriate department. The front lobby would include administrative desks for every city department in one place.

The treasury office would be directly to the right of the main entrance, providing easy access for residents looking to pay their bills.

A separate entrance leading directly to the City Council chambers would only be open for meetings.

The biggest change, however, is that City Council members would have the only set offices in the building. All other department heads—and the mayor—would work in open environments, with no walls dividing departments, or employees.

"If you need privacy, you can go into a small conference room," Mayor Jack O'Reilly said of the design. There are 18 such rooms in the plan, varying in size from a four-person space to a room that could accommodate 50 people.

O'Reilly said he sees the design as being more friendly to residents.

"Customer service will be extraordinary because it's easy and accessible," he said. "Customers can come in and deal with any department."

Additionally, having one main entrance allows for heightened security within the building.

Still to be determined is what will be done with the vast amount of extra space on the second floor of the building.

O'Reilly had hoped to see a joint venture come to fruition with Dearborn Public Schools, which would move their administrative facilities into that space. However, the Dearborn Board of Education has determined that more time and information is needed before they could agree to that plan.

O'Reilly said he is confident, however, that they will be able to find some use for the space, which accounts for around half of the second floor.

Council President Tom Tafelski said after the meeting that while he is participating in discussions about how the new city hall will look and function, he is still opposed to the idea of moving entirely.

"After seeing the plans and listening to the mayor, I think this is the mayor trying to sell another bad idea to the citizens of Dearborn," he said. "I still believe it’s a bad idea."

Cost estimates for the renovations to the new city hall were not immediately available.

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