The College Park City Council agreed on Tuesday to the cost of an $80,000-per-year lease with the University of Maryland for temporary office space to be used during the City Hall redevelopment project.
Most city workers will relocate to the Artemesia Building on Route 1 before construction on the $30 million redevelopment begins, which city officials expect will happen in January.
The move will most likely begin in August or September, city manager Scott Somers said.
As part of the lease, the university has agreed to cover about $83,000 for renovations to the temporary space, and the city will pay an additional $32,000 for renovation costs.
The lease will still need to be reviewed by the city attorney before it is finalized.
The city considered other options for the relocation, such as Davis Hall, but the cost to make that property ADA-compliant would have exceeded those in the lease the city will sign with the university.
City staff will remain at the Artemesia Building for about two-and-a-half years while the project is completed.
The new City Hall will be part of the redevelopment of the entire block at the intersection of Knox Road and Route 1, which will also include retail space and university offices.
Of the project’s $30 million cost, the city expects to pay $12 million, though the specific division of costs has not been determined.
The city purchased two properties located on the proposed redevelopment site, which is currently occupied by Shanghai Cafe and Subway, for $1.6 million last yer. The leases are due to expire in September, but may be extended to the end of the year to match the expiration of the leases on the other sites the city doesn’t own, which are currently held by Smoothie King and Hair Cuttery, assistant city manager Bill Gardiner said.
When the city purchased the site occupied by Shanghai Cafe and Subway, it offered to help the businesses find new locations.
“Hopefully they’ll find a spot, and hopefully we can help them find a spot prior to the termination of the lease,” Gardiner said. “There really have not been a lot of vacancies in the downtown area.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, the council also amended the city code to allow the council to approve of polling times and early voting prior to each election.
Until now, polling hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. were enshrined in the city code. The amendment was proposed after the council voted Feb. 12 to open a polling site in the College Park Community Center on Oct. 27, more than a week before regular voting begins Nov. 5.
By amending the code now, the city avoids having to amend the document every time changes want to be made. Instead, the council will approve of the polling hours when they approve the polling locations the Board of Elections designates.
“The purpose of this is to make it more flexible on the council,” city clerk Janeen Miller said. “It’s less expensive for us and it expedites the timing.”