Residents get their first look Monday at a $5 million plan for a new City Hall, including a proposal that would relocate the Zigler Art Museum to the new facility. (Doris Maricle / American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 2:35 PM
JENNINGS — Residents got their first look Monday at a $5 million plan for a new City Hall, including a proposal that would relocate the Zigler Art Museum to the new facility.
Plans for the two-story City Hall, designed by Architect Southwest of Lafayette, include renovating the former Allwest building on North Main and using 2,800-square-foot of unused space for the museum gallery.
The current City Hall building is deteriorating and would cost $4.5 million to repair, officials said.
“We saw an opportunity to do something more significant than renovate a building,” architect Steven J. Oubre said. “We want to take this to the next level.”
The Zigler Art Museum, which is having significant issues with its existing building, could serve as the anchor for the downtown project, Oubre said.
“A lot of people know about the Zigler museum and it’s world-class collection,” he said. “We want to put it outside of the residential area and recommend that the city consider putting the Zigler as the anchor for this project to get people down here. We need to get tourists downtown to bring businesses downtown.”
The project is intended to spark economic growth in the downtown area by attracting more businesses and apartments while preserving its historical past, Mayor Terry Duhon said.
“This is not only about building a new City Hall, but we are hoping to make our Main Street area better for the whole community by reviving the downtown area,” Duhon said.
In addition to the Zigler Art Museum, plans for the first floor include the city’s water department, council meeting room with seating for 50-60, a pre-event lobby space to be used for meetings and exhibits, and a reception area. Administrative offices, a small conference room and storage would be located on the second floor.
Other highlights include a drive-thru window for utility payments, street trees to create shade, stairs, elevators and restrooms.
The adjacent Bull Durham Park could be utilized as an urban park for outdoor venues and exhibits.
As much of the exterior of the building, which was built in the early 1900s, will be restored as possible, Oubre said.
“This is an opportunity for us to solve all kinds of problems and enhance the work the city started 20 years ago with the downtown development,” former mayor Greg Marcantel said. “We hope to see more activities taking place with this anchor.”
The project will also include relocating the city court to a 4,000-square-foot unused space at the nearby Conference Center. The move would allow for a “slightly bigger” courtroom and would provide space for attorneys to meet with clients, clerks offices, the City Marshal’s Office and a judge’s chambers with access to the courtroom.
Moving the city court will free up space in the Public Safety Building for improvements to the city’s fire and police departments, including relocating the detectives division to police department. The division is currently located in a separate building.
Minor upgrades will also be made to the city’s Public Works/Street Department at the corner of Jefferson and South Main streets.
Funding for the project will be provided by portions of a second penny sales tax being used to retire the debt on a sewer upgrade project. That debt will soon expire and could be rolled over to the City Hall project, Marcantel said. Voters will decide on renewing and dedicating the tax on Dec. 8.
City officials hope to let the project for bid in January with construction starting by April with the new City Hall open by the summer of 2014.