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City Hall remodeling 80 percent complete

Friday, September 19, 2014 by Mark Richardson

Officials with the city’s Public Works Department said Thursday that renovations to the first and second floors of City Hall are between 70 and 80 percent complete, and should be usable by late October.

Construction began in July on the Council Chambers and the Executive Conference Room to accommodate the new 11-member City Council that will be seated in January. Remodeling is also taking place on the second floor to convert office space used by the current seven-member Council for members of the new 10-1 District Council who will be elected in November.

The city expects to spend more than $1.4 million making room for the new Council.

“Things are moving along at a pretty good clip,” said David Smythe-Macauley, the Public Works Department’s construction manager for the project. “In the first-floor chambers, we have removed the old dais and replaced it with a new one that will hold all 11 Council members. We have also moved some of the other furniture around.”

The new dais is constructed with pecan wood, which Smythe-Macauley said will take about two years to “cure” and turn its final color, which will be a couple of shades lighter than when it is first installed. The original dais, some of which was constructed with wood from Austin’s Treaty Oak, will be preserved, he said, and the Treaty Oak panels will be saved to be made into other pieces of furniture in City Hall.

Smythe-Macauley said his crews are also remodeling the executive conference room behind the dais in Council Chambers to accommodate the large Council during executive sessions.

Construction on the second floor has been more involved, he said. Crews initially had to strip all the offices on that floor back to the original walls in order to refit the area with more offices. The area will have to accommodate office space for 10 Council members and their staff. (The mayor’s office will be on another floor.)

“We’ve just finished framing out the new offices and getting the wiring in place,” he said. ” We are now putting up sheet rock and getting ready to start painting.”

Smythe-Macauley said his crews were building the second floor out to LEED standards.

The new Council will be seated in early January, but Smythe-Macauley said it’s likely the current Council can begin meeting there again in late October. In the interim, Council has been meeting in the Travis County Commissioners Court chambers. City boards and commissions that normally meet at City Hall have been gathering at a variety of other city venues, causing some disruption and confusion.

Austin City Hall opened at 200 W 2nd St. in 2004 after four years of construction. It replaced a City Hall building a few blocks away that was built in the 1950s.

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