You can’t fight City Hall if you don’t know where it is. Pretty soon, Dunwoody residents will be able to readily know where to go to voice their complaints – and, of course, praise.
Long hidden within an office complex enclosed by lush trees in the spring and summer months, City Hall has been hard to find for those not familiar with 41 Perimeter Center East. Small signs visible only to those with sharp peepers can be seen by those searching for which way to turn off Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
But that soon will change. Perhaps as soon as next summer, Dunwoody’s city employees will be moving to a new, much more visible home at 4800 Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
“The visibility is second to none,” Mayor Denis Shortal said of the building’s location.
The city announced the purchase of the office building May 5 for $8.25 million. At its May 9 meeting, the council approved a resolution to move forward with the purchase from JHJ 4800 Ashford LLC and RCB 4800 Ashford LLC.
Dunwoody currently rents space at 41 Perimeter Center East for its city offices for about $599,000 a year and that lease expires next year. The building would be the first city-owned City Hall complex in the city’s nearly eight-year history.
The city has 90 days to complete inspections of the two-story building built in 1995 and the closing date on the property is expected to be Sept. 30.
There are several other businesses located in the approximately 45,000 -square-foot building, including Community & Southern Bank, whose sign emblazons the front of the building.
The bank’s lease expires Sept. 30, Shortal said, and he said he hopes to have all tenants out by Jan. 1, 2017. The city will not be renting out spaces to other businesses.
Shortal said he hopes the city may start moving in shortly after July 1, 2017, after remodeling the building. The complete move is expected to be completed by early 2018.
All city offices, including the police department, municipal court and City Council chambers, will be located at the new building.
City Manager Eric Linton also got approval to hire a program manager for $20,000 to oversee the inspections and evaluation of the building. Moving costs are expected to cost about $250,000.
The property is located on nearly 3.3 acres of property and has 180 parking spaces. There are two existing signs on the property and Linton said the city would make sure they were up to codes should the city use them.
“This is a great building, a great location,” said Councilmember John Heneghan, who asked the building also meets the city’s sustainability ordinances and is also compliant with the Americans with Disability Act.
Councilmember Terry Nall asked what would happen with the bank’s drive-through. Linton said the city is exploring possibly enclosing the space rather than taking it off.
“We got this one right,” said Councilmember Doug Thompson. “This is the right building at the right location at the right time.”
City staff and planning consultants have been searching for a new City Hall for more than two years. Linton told council that the negotiations for the purchase of the building at 4800 Ashford-Dunwoody Road have been underway for six months.
“We believe the new City Hall building will allow us to better serve our citizens,” Shortal said in a statement. “Our intent is to utilize the first floor of the new City Hall as the primary space where citizens and businesses will interact with the city through permitting, licensing, police department, court or council and public meetings. The central location, sufficient parking and overall accessibility make this new City Hall an ideal fit for our community.”