Plans for a new Denison City Hall building gained momentum last week when officials announced the city received five proposals for the construction manager at risk position for the project. In late 2015, city officials announced the $3 million project that would see the former Bank of America building on Main Street converted into the new Denison City Hall.

City Manager Jud Rex said city staff will be spending the next few weeks conducting interviews with the five candidate firms with hopes of having a finalist to present to the City Council in late February.

“At the same time, we are trying to get started with some of the work and demolition,” Rex said, noting the expected move in date as early 2018.

Rex said the initial proposals include information on each firm, along with a fee to serve as construction manager. This will include estimates on cost to perform the renovations by the firm itself or to subcontract out the work, Rex added.

The five firms include three from Fort Worth-based Speed Fab-Crete, AUI Partners LLC and Wilks Construction Company. The remaining two firms include Schmoldt Construction of Celina and Piazza Construction, which is based in Denison.

Piazza previously worked with the city on the construction of the new Southside Fire Station and the renovation of the Denison Police Department. Currently, Piazza is also serving as construction manager for the upcoming $14 million Texoma Health Foundation Park project, which is expected to open later this year.

Joe Piazza, vice president of Piazza Construction, said he did not know the full scope of the project as it has yet to be finalized, but noted the first two floors of the building would likely be completely rebuilt and remodelled.

Rex said the majority of the first floor will be used as the City Council Chambers and will be designed to be open and accessible to residents. In the event of larger meetings, Rex said the outside of the chambers can be opened to additional seating and visitors will be able watch and hear the proceedings through glass walls.

“Walk in the front door and you will notice two things … the first being a state-of-the-art meeting space,” Rex said. “It will be transparent, quite literally.”

Other often-used services including the water department and municipal court will also be located on the first floor for accessibility, Rex said. This will also allow the city to end its lease on the City Hall Annex, which currently houses the department.

In addition to bringing the water department under the same roof as other departments, the water department will utilize an automated drive-thru system that will allow residents to pay their bill at any time. The system will allow users to scan their bill using an automated teller, and will be open at all hours, Rex said.

“People at all hours of the day will be able to pay their water bill rather than just on our hours,” he said.

The second floor will be used to bring together related departments that were often separated. This includes all the individual departments in development services that oversee city building projects. Rex said this will be designed to make it a “one-stop shop” for anyone wishing to build in Denison.

In addition to bringing together development services, the new facility will allow the city to move Parks & Recreation and Denison Main Street back into City Hall. Previously, these departments were housed in the Denison SNAP Center.

With 26,000 square feet of space, Rex said the new facility is expected to meet the city’s needs for the next 20 years. When asked why the city decided against building a new facility, Rex said it would have cost double or triple the expense of simply renovating the building. Additionally, it makes use of a building in downtown that would likely remain empty, he said.

The city first discussed moving into the former bank building in September 2015 when the council signed a letter of intent to purchase the building. Under the terms, the city would purchase the bank building and nearby motor bank in exchange for $400,000 and the current city hall building.