Details Emerge on Design of New Dearborn City Hall

Expect to see an open layout and centralized services.

A picture of what Dearborn's new city hall could look like is starting to develop.

Mike Kirk of Neumann-Smith Architecture met with Dearborn City Council Thursday to discuss details of the design for the building. This includes both how city departments will be structured, as well as how the layout will serve both city employees and residents.

The city purchased the former ADP building in May of 2012, with the intent to make it their new administrative home. The two-story office building sits just west of the Henry Ford Centennial Library, at 16901 Michigan Ave.

Drawings presented by Kirk on Thursday show that Dearborn's new city hall could function more like a business, with residents being assisted at one main "lobby" area and then directed to the appropriate department. The front lobby would include administrative desks for every city department in one place.

The treasury office would be directly to the right of the main entrance, providing easy access for residents looking to pay their bills.

A separate entrance leading directly to the City Council chambers would only be open for meetings.

The biggest change, however, is that City Council members would have the only set offices in the building. All other department heads—and the mayor—would work in open environments, with no walls dividing departments, or employees.

"If you need privacy, you can go into a small conference room," Mayor Jack O'Reilly said of the design. There are 18 such rooms in the plan, varying in size from a four-person space to a room that could accommodate 50 people.

O'Reilly said he sees the design as being more friendly to residents.

"Customer service will be extraordinary because it's easy and accessible," he said. "Customers can come in and deal with any department."

Additionally, having one main entrance allows for heightened security within the building.

Still to be determined is what will be done with the vast amount of extra space on the second floor of the building.

O'Reilly had hoped to see a joint venture come to fruition with Dearborn Public Schools, which would move their administrative facilities into that space. However, the Dearborn Board of Education has determined that more time and information is needed before they could agree to that plan.

O'Reilly said he is confident, however, that they will be able to find some use for the space, which accounts for around half of the second floor.

Council President Tom Tafelski said after the meeting that while he is participating in discussions about how the new city hall will look and function, he is still opposed to the idea of moving entirely.

"After seeing the plans and listening to the mayor, I think this is the mayor trying to sell another bad idea to the citizens of Dearborn," he said. "I still believe it’s a bad idea."

Cost estimates for the renovations to the new city hall were not immediately available.

Aridog January 13, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Jessica Carreras .... you are just NOW puttng those numbers together? Have I got it right...Dearborn has already bought a facility that it will only half occupy while we have no commitment to rent the vacant portion, nor a firm commitment to pruchase the old facility from us? Cart before the horse much? Similar to the uber nice fee based parking structures in west end...to service apartments and condos never built? Chickens counted prior to hatching? Has any kind of opinion survey been done of city employees regarding the "open office floor plan?" Or this being done by edict alone? Is the open plan truly open like a 1930's insurance company office or is it acutally a cubical farm? What is the estmated morale impact on employees? As a federal executive (in a military office) I preferred an open cubical layout, no private office, that accomodated some modicum of individual privacy along with open access to the same individuals. We did a survey of agency employees, as part of the justification for the expense of the change from open plan WWII furniture, and 95% preferred the modified (lower walls) cubical farm. That preference was the cheapest option. Why is everything we in Dearborn do lately seem to be based upon if, come, and maybe?
Angel moyer January 13, 2013 at 03:48 PM
I don't live in your state but, if the "old city hall" is to be renovated ( at least that is my impression) the second floor would be vacant. There in its self is review for the city by renting out the space either in part or as a whole. I don't think it would be a wise financial move to offer the space to the local dept. of education as well all know the school system routinely suffers cuts in funding and budget. Being able to pay rent ( event a set amount I.e no more no less) is risky when considering an organization taking big hits. Lets face it gotta make money to balance the cities check book. If cheaper to stay in the old building and renovate the smarter move would rent the space to occupants like lawyers, local CEO's of large company's in the area. Personally if I walked in to a city hall and was able to see people like the mayor etc..my elected officials at their desk working instead of behind a wall or door etc..simply and, best explained people take comfort if they can see who they voted for actually at work and not just public appearances about a situation. Then again I am not a resident just some random Facebook surfer that that found your page by chance. Good luck on your discussions my try be the best and most wise for your city.
Aridog January 13, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Jessica Carreras ...while you are at trying to get some accurate numbers from the city, query them about the $7.50/sq ft. O&M annual cost alleged for the new facility versus the $23.50/Sq ft. annual O&M costs for old facility. Purported savings to us is $16.00/sq ft. That $7.50 Operations and Maintenance figure is total nonsense in my experience with large office facilities in downtown Detroit and the suburbs generally. Rule of thumb is that O&M cost rise in linear fashion as amortization of orignal cost declines in linear fashion, to a point where they equal or exceed the orignal porperty cost per square foot. $7.50/sq ft would barely get us a large tent and no amenities. Figures cited are from the http://www.cityofdearborn.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=1245&Itemid=243 City - Mayor's Office publication of 22 May 2012.
Aridog January 13, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Bob ... if you wish to believe a number, the Mayor represents that the new facility Operation & Maintenance costs will be $7.50 per square foot per annum. If you believe that, please contact me, 'cuz I have this bridge in NYC to sell. Otherwise, see the Mahor's office link I cited earlier. Jessica ... no offense intended, but if the city cannot accurately estimate O & M costs for the new facility, they clearly ought not to be buying it or moving in to it. I'm sure they will tell you that, however. They don't want you/us to remember the $7.50/sq ft/annum absurdity they cited when convincing the Council et al., to approve the move.
Lee Jacobsen March 29, 2013 at 07:38 PM
angel, I would strongly insist that the Educational dept offices move into the second floor of city hall, then we can have the two major tax holes in our wallets at least within the same sights, and they can help each other out discussing ways to save the taxpayers (us) money. Let the Ed. Dept offices stay there rent free. Since we are paying several times any rent they are currently paying as taxpayers anyway, the end result is we save money. Call me Ismael, the open working policy works great, just like on NCIS, instant communication and sharing of gossip and ideas, instead of hiding in offices playing solitaire or who knows what. Also saves any bad guys with grudges time, everyone can stand up and point to the mayor "He did it!", and then proceed to get out of the way.


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