(12/12/13) - It took several years and millions of dollars to fix, but city hall
in Bay City is open for business once again.
Damage from a fire closed the building in 2010.
Thursday, the community got its first chance to see the new improvements. Work to fix the building took longer than expected, but the city is pleased with the final results.
"It's been a long three years, we've been scattered around the city so we are all happy to be back together," said Dana Muscott, acting city manager.
Back together under the renovated roof of city hall.
Firefighting efforts in 2010 left behind a lot of water damage, but city employees hadn't expected to be displaced for so long.
"We were told in the beginning, expect to be gone for two weeks," Muscott said.
Instead, they spent years in remote offices while crews worked to restore the building.
"There was a lot of planning, going back and forth between insurance and architects and myself and we finally reached an agreement," Muscott said.
But city officials spent $10 million to restore the building, bringing back the original colors and adding light fixtures that replicate the 1800's, even including murals on the walls of the Commissioners Chamber.
"That is from the dry out process, all the way up to the restoration, so there are a lot of things included in that amount, as far as rent at other places, phone bills, things like that," Muscott said.
Today, city hall looks as good as new.
"We brought back the historic colors from the 1800's, the lighting is back from the 1800's, we were able to replicate a lot of the lights from pictures, the wood floors in the chambers," Muscott said.
There are still a few areas in the building that are unfinished, like the Commissioners Chambers. The room still needs to be organized, and they say chairs need to be delivered, but all in all, city officials are pleased with what they see.
"The renovations turned out perfect," Muscott said.
While the building is beautiful, the new layout led to some confusion on the first day the building opened to the public.
After being closed for three years, it's kind of hard for some people to remember where they're going, and some of the offices inside of city hall have changed locations. That's just one small thing that people will have to get use to."
"We moved the busiest office where people pay bills to the first floor to make it easier on citizens," Muscott said.
All the repair and restoration costs were covered by insurance.
An official ribbon cutting is scheduled for next month.
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