Plans Move Forward on New Wisconsin City Hall Project

By Lisa Kopochinski

WAUKESHA, Wis.—Plans are moving forward to replace the 54-year-old Waukesha City Hall in Waukesha.

Over the years, city leaders have debated whether to replace or repair the 1965 structure that was built on top of what was originally a bomb shelter.

Last year, city council members decided that new construction was the best option. Over the past decade or so, various facilities and space needs studies have raised concerns regarding safety, maintenance and operational concerns with the 45,180-square-foot building, located at 201 Delafield St.

Plans call for the old city hall building to be demolished, and the new $27.3 million building to be built directly adjacent to it. St. Paul, Minn.-based BWBR Architects Inc. is the architect on this project. A general contractor has not yet been selected.

“The roof system needs to be replaced, the HVAC system, and some of our electrical systems need to be replaced,” says Kevin Lahner, city administrator. “We have a water infiltration issue. The basement houses our IT and it just so happens that the water leaks into our IT department, our boilers and electrical systems.”

Lahner says one of the biggest priorities of this project is to create a work environment that encourages collaboration and communication among staff

“So, we’ve tried to do that through design. It won’t be a completely open office design, but it’s more of a hybrid between an open office and a traditional closed office design.”

The new city hall building will include secure entryways for staff members, improved public meeting spaces, and sustainability features, including a green roof. There will also be a reconfiguration of the council chambers, which will allow council members to face the audience, rather than have their back to them, as they do in the current building.

Construction is expected to begin in September, with the project slated for completion by February 2021.

Additionally, Lahner says one of the goals of the project to attract more development in the area around the new city hall.

“We feel we’re creating a catalyst project to spur some redevelopment just north of our downtown,” Lahner said. “Connecting our neighborhoods with the downtown area will be a nice transition for everyone.”

A proposal is in the works do to just this. Horizon Development Group Inc. and Luther Group LLC have expressed plans to redevelop the site along Delafield Street across from the current city hall. Those plans include a mixed-use, 80-unit building consisting of senior apartments and 7,500 square feet of first-floor commercial space.

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