Denison residents were given a tour of the city’s latest public amenity Tuesday when the city held an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Denison City Hall building. The ceremony comes just one week after city officials moved into what was previously the Denison branch of Bank of America.
The event saw dozens of residents, business owners, and other officials tour the renovated building and the offices that now house the vast majority of the city’s staff. Following the festivities, city officials christened the new building by holding the first city council meeting in the new city hall.
“The word I would use is that there is a lot of civic pride in this building,” City Manager Jud Rex said Tuesday.
Talk of moving city hall from its long-standing home in the 500 block of Chestnut started in 2015 with the closure of the Bank of America building. Less than three months after the closure, the city council took action to start the process of purchasing the building.
Since then the building has gone through more than $3.6 million in renovations and improvements, including the construction of a new city council chambers, the completion of the unfinished third floor and the installation of a new heating and air system.
“I remember one of the first times I walked through the building was in April 2015,” Rex said, describing one of his first major projects as city manager. “We looked at it and started kicked those tires along.”
During city hall’s first week, Rex said there were few issues save for problems with the building’s elevator system.
With the new building, Rex said the city was able to bring together many of the departments under the same roof. Previously, city staff was split between three buildings: city hall, the city hall annex and the Denison SNAP Center.
Denison Mayor Janet Gott said a 2014 survey on increasing efficiency within the city said the most important step Denison could take would be to move all city services into the same building. After talking with employees Tuesday, Gott said she was convinced that this was already happening.
“It feels wonderful to be here,” she said. “Just look around and be Denison proud for our city.”
Gott first stepped into the completed city hall last week during a meeting with Rex. During that visit, Gott said she was impressed with the work she had seen on the building.
“When I walked through the door, all I could say was, ‘Wow’,” she said. “It was such a feeling of accomplishment that we could do this for our city.”
Among those in attendance for Tuesday’s festivities was former Grayson County Judge Horace Groff, who took time to take in the new, large city council chambers. Groff said he can remember when the property was the site of a different bank well before the current building was created.
“Any time you can repurpose something this nice, it is always a good thing,” he said, standing before the council dais.
Groff said he hopes that the movement of city hall will benefit not only city staff, but also the neighboring businesses that call downtown home.