Future of City Hall Plaza Remains Uncertain

Common Council Provides Direction for Next Steps

Though the sale of Marshfield’s City Hall Plaza to Gorman & Company has fallen through, the City of Marshfield Common Council chose an option for moving forward to help ensure the City’s transition to a new facility is a smooth one.

Discussions for the sale of City Hall Plaza started when Forward Financial began to consider building a new facility on the north side of Marshfield contingent on selling their current location (located at the northwest corner of West Sixth Street and Chestnut Avenue).

“We have long recognized that City Hall Plaza (approximately 77,000 square feet) far exceeds the City’s actual space needs, and as the Forward Financial building has about 1/3 of our existing square footage, we felt this was an opportunity worth pursuing, if we could find someone to purchase and redevelop our current facility,” said Steve Barg, City Administrator.

After the City’s Common Council authorized staff to send out a Request for Proposals (RFP), they then received three proposals for renovating City Hall Plaza into a residential use. One was for senior apartments and another was for assisted living; however, the Council chose the 3rd proposal, from Gorman & Company (Milwaukee), who planned to create 40 “workforce” apartments.

“The purchase agreement that Gorman and the City executed contained a few contingencies on Gorman’s end, including approval of historic tax credits to help finance this project,” explained Barg. “Recently it has become evident to Gorman staff that City Hall Plaza will not qualify for historic tax credits, since too much of the building has been renovated/altered since its original construction by the Marshfield Clinic.”

Because the City’s purchase offer to buy the current Forward Financial facility contains no outstanding contingencies, the City is obligated to complete the purchase of the property by March 31, 2018.

This means that the City must begin efforts to find another buyer for the current City Hall Plaza.

“There are a few outstanding long-term repairs and improvements that must be completed in the years ahead, but City officials remain confident that another buyer will be found before that time,” said Barg.

Cost implications of the sale’s cancellation are unknown at this point.

“The purchase price offered by Gorman was $500,000, and hopefully we can find a buyer who will offer something in that range,” said Barg. “In the meantime, the City will continue to collect lease payments in connection with City Hall Plaza, including a significant amount of revenue from antennas and related equipment on the roof, and also lease revenue from commercial tenants on the first floor.”

At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, the Council directed staff to prepare a new Request for Proposal (RFP) for review and approval at the Council’s June 13th Meeting, with one change.

“This time, the Council wants the RFP to express an openness to ALL types of proposals (including office/commercial/retail, etc.) acceptable under our downtown zoning regulations, not just residential proposals, as we did the first time,” said Barg.

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Despite the setbacks, Barg remains hopeful that the City will find a successful solution.

“The City is committed to finding another developer for City Hall Plaza, and residents can expect to see considerable discussion on this issue in the coming weeks, as we work to find someone who will not only help us financially by purchasing the building, but whose plans will be for a use that is beneficial to the downtown area and the City in general,” said Barg.

News Desk
Author: News Desk