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Rehoboth City Hall takes shape

Sargent: It’s come a long way
An exterior view of the proposed new Rehoboth Beach City Hall complex. City architects are planning to further revise the floor plan for the estimated $15 million project and attach cost estimates. BY RYAN MAVITY
February 24, 2014

After nearly two years of being just lines on a piece of paper, the proposed new Rehoboth Beach City Hall now has a face.

Architect Mike Wigley of Davis, Bowen and Friedel unveiled schematic designs of the proposed $15 million complex at a meeting of the City Hall Master Plan Task Force Feb. 10. The design called for a two-story building with an attic-style third floor to be used as a training room and future space for the police department.

The building will be brick with a gable roof. Mayor Sam Cooper said he was impressed by the design's cottage-type feel, and that it would fit in with older buildings on Rehoboth Avenue. Wigley said ideas for the new City Hall were taken from the Rehoboth Public Library.

"The library sets itself apart from other buildings along Rehoboth Avenue by its use of brick and precast concrete banding, thus setting a standard in our minds for what a civic building may want to emulate," he said. The library also extends to the sidewalk with a second story set back from the sidewalk, a design reflected in City Hall plans.

City Halls main entrances would be from Rehoboth Avenue and from the east side of the proposed building, near the fire hall. From Rehoboth Avenue, people would enter into the main lobby area, enclosed by a two-story glass atrium with  two sets of stairs leading to the second floor.

Wigley said having two staircases enables employees and visitors to access the second floor from both of the building's entrances.

Another architectural flourish is the lighthouse-like structure on the second floor that would house a caucus room for the city commissioners. Wigley said this room could hold smaller meetings than the larger commissioners' room  and could also serve as an executive suite available to the public in conjunction with the convention center. He said the design of the room was intended to extend awareness of the convention center when viewed from Rehoboth Avenue.

Plans call for constructing the building in two phases, with the police and 911 facilities built first, while city administrative functions come later in Phase 2. Cooper said a two-phase plan would be easier for city officials to pull off.

Wigley said talks will continue with the city manager and various department heads to make revisions to the floor plan. The team from engineer EDiS Co. is expected prepare cost estimates to go along with the revised drawings. The task force agreed to meet again Monday, April 7, to continue to discuss the plan.

Cooper said there is still a great deal more work to do, starting with continuing to tinker where individual offices fit and how they interface with one another. Cooper said offices that deal directly with the public should be on the first floor.

In Cooper's opinion, the game plan should be for the task force to finalize the building plans, come up with a final cost estimate and then bring the plans to the city commissioners to answer two key questions: Should the project proceed? And how will it be paid for?

Overall, the task force was pleased with where the project is heading.

Task force member Jim Ellison said, “I really think this is coming together rather well in terms of solving the notion of an inviting, open building. I’m liking the way the entrances at both ends of this have their own staircase. I think the two-story atrium is quite a refreshing statement.”

Commissioner Bill Sargent said, “The way it is organized is very exciting. It’s come a long way since we first started.”