About 250 city of Columbus employees have begun moving into the former police headquarters after almost $38 million in repairs and renovations modernized the 1929 building.
As they become the building’s first occupants in more than 20 years, the employees are often greeted with examples of old meeting new.
In the halls, high-efficiency lights shine on the original orange marble paneling, and towering glass walls now extend past the brick-and-mortar walls of the building’s east face. “We’re trying to respect history,” said Dave Bush, the assistant director of finance and management.
The city has spent about $33.7 million since July 2011 to renovate the five-story building at 77 N. Front St. into office space for six city departments. In 2000, to stop the building from deteriorating, the city council approved spending about $4 million for new windows, a new roof, asbestos removal and some other limited renovations.
The building had been vacant since 1991, when police moved to their current headquarters in a newly built eight-story tower next door.
“The building was pretty beat up,” Bush said. “Through neglect, it was falling down.”
Among the updates: Keycard pads restrict movement throughout the building, and a tunnel linking it and City Hall was rebuilt. Lighting, heating and cooling improvements meet or exceed efficiency standards. The glass-walled extension on the east provides about 30,000 square feet more space and also helps reduce energy costs by allowing in more natural light.
The building will house employees from the city attorney’s office, income-tax division, public safety, human resources, civil service and purchasing.
Planning officials worked with the departments to meet their needs. The city attorney’s office, for example, has sound-insulated rooms for depositions, and civil service has a room with 50 computers for employee testing.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Michael Eccard, the assistant executive director of the civil-service commission, which moved into the new offices about two weeks ago. “Having all of our offices on one floor has been a huge benefit to us.”
Civil-service employees previously worked on different floors in the Beacon Building across Front Street at 50 W. Gay St.
As the city is moving employees into the building, it is shuffling others in order to vacate the offices nearby at 109 N. Front St., which should be demolished by the end of the year. The city council has allocated funds for the design of its replacement, which could be completed as early as 2015, Bush said.
Read original story at the Columbus Dispatch.