Waukesha plans new or renovated City Hall

Cost estimates range from $17.8 million to $23 million

Map of proposed sites for new Waukesha City Hall

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:01 pm

Four options are on the table for the future of Waukesha’s aging City Hall building, ranging from major renovations to a new building located along the Fox River.

Map of proposed sites for new Waukesha City Hall
Map of proposed sites for new Waukesha City Hall

The Waukesha City Council on Tuesday will review the results from a $60,000 study done by Robert W. Baird & Co. to examine options to replace or upgrade the 51-year-old, 45,180-square-foot City Hall building.

“We’re very early in the process and trying to educate our folks and the public about the issues,” said Waukesha City Administrator Kevin Lahner. “I think it’s fair to say the majority of the council recognizes the need to do something.”

Option one is adding two additions totaling 22,000 square feet onto the existing building at 201 Delafield St. The first addition would be a department of public works garage on the northeast side of the building. The second addition would be a two-story expansion of the existing building on the southwest, anchored by a new public plaza. This plan would cost between $17.8 million and $19.7 million.

Before any work could be done, a new roof, new HVAC and asbestos abatement would have to be completed, likely totaling more than $1 million, Lahner said.

Option two is a new 62,753-square-foot, two-story building on the existing City Hall site. This plan would cost between $17.9 million and $19.8 million.

Option three would move City Hall into a municipal services building on top of the existing three-level parking structure at the Waukesha Transit Center, 2311 Badger Drive. This plan would renovate 7,500 square feet of the existing building and build a new 56,618-square-foot level on top of the 70,800-square-foot parking deck. This plan would cost between $20.8 million and $23 million.

The fourth option would be to construct a new two-story, 56,618-square-foot municipal services building and riverwalk plaza on St. Paul Avenue. The site is adjacent to the existing Transit Center. This plan costs between $17 million and $19 million.

There has been talk of building a new City Hall in Waukesha for several years.

A memo, entitled “Waukesha’s Financial Conundrum,” sent from former City Administrator Ed Henschel to the city’s Finance Committee in June 2014 stressed the need for a new city hall, among other capital improvements.

Hanschel’s review of the city’s long term needs found $240 million needed to be spent on necessary capital projects. A new City Hall would cost approximately $20 million, according to the report. Other needs include $128 million for new streets and $70 million for storm sewers.

Lahner said the new municipal building would likely be paid for by issuing bonds, however the Baird study looks at other options, including partnering with private development and leasing the building.

“Right now we are trying to get all of our ducks in a row,” Lahner said. “We’ll review the different options and give folks time to digest it before determining what to do. But there is no doubt something needs to be done.”

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