Exit133 is about Tacoma
City Hall Looking Further Into Selling Out
This story’s a day or two old, but I was busy this weekend.
The city continues to look at whether to sell the circa 1929 art deco municipal building and move ‘city hall’ to South 21st and Jefferson. The goal of the sale would be to lower the cost per person and per square foot of running city without raising taxes. According to the story, preliminary numbers are in favor of selling the building and moving.
What concerns me is the focus on the building, its value, and the cost per person to run city hall. Why? One, because the city will always have a building and land with value. If we want to go by the numbers, wouldn’t it be cheaper to move even further south into a neighborhood that could use some love. Why stay in downtown at all? Second, generating numbers like this is a highly tenuous endeavor using smoke and mirrors. How do you consider what’s in and out of scope for the numbers. Do you count only the hard numbers like building cost, utilities, and cubicle walls. Or do you consider the soft costs like the loss of productivity caused by the move? Generally speaking, consultants hired to come up with such numbers will use whatever you want, to come up with the numbers you need. It’s in their best interest to find what you want to find.
I will acknowledge that, generally speaking, moving City Hall further south in downtown doesn’t bother me… too much. However, I like that our city’s government offices are right downtown in what could become a very vibrant part of our city. I like that it’s a building with a history and that we, the average public citizen, can walk in to do business. I often walk downtown to the municipal building to do my city business and enjoy every bit of it. If the building goes condo or commercial condo, we won’t be quite as welcome anymore. Moving to South 21st Street isn’t a huge difference, but it’s enough that I won’t be walking it – at least for a while.
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