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Future City Hall gets a $50 million price increase

Additional space, a floodway discovery, and inflation have increased the budget to $230 million.

Renderings of the council chambers at Future City Hall

Renderings of the Council Chambers at Future City Hall.

Image courtesy of The City of Fort Worth

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The path to something new is never without challenges, and that couldn’t be more true for the Future City Hall. At a city council meeting earlier this week, Athenian Group shared an update on the scope and budget for the project — facilities for 700 more employees and a mere $50 million increase in total cost.

The proposed total budget is now $230.5 million, up from the $180 million original estimate. The $13 million inflation increase isn’t the only cause.

City Hall tower

In 2021, 900 employees planned to move into the west downtown complex; now, there will be 1,600 staff members. The city will lease the building’s 15th floor — about 20,000 sqft — and update floors that were originally slated to be left “as-is.”

Construction revealed issues with the lighting control system, facilities, and mechanical infrastructure. Tower maintenance and capacity for more staff add ~$20 million to the budget.

Council Chamber

Last year, the city discovered the site falls into a federal floodway. Therefore, the city must reserve a certain amount of land, known as valley storage, for flooding emergencies from the adjacent Trinity River.

The Athenian Group worked with Trinity River Water District and the US Army Corps of Engineers to obtain the correct permits, but it delayed the completion date to 2024, nearly a year later than intended.

The design for the Council Chambers increased from two to three stories to minimize the footprint and the team will have to build up the grade. These changes — as well as the accompanying egress, structure, and waterproofing — will result in a $7.6 million increase.

The updated designs also include 13,000 sqft of additional spacenamely meeting, catering, security, and media rooms — a $9.4 million change.

The increased budget will draw from the city’s 2023 debt program, which city council will consider at the Tuesday, Feb. 14 meeting.

Floodway status

As of May 5, the city has requested to alter the federal floodway, and the request was published in the Federal Register. Government agencies and stakeholders have through Sunday, June 4 to comment and ensure that “the benefits which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposed alteration must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.”

The Army Corps of Engineers has determined altering the floodway doesn’t pose harm to the water flowage thresholds and resident safety or threatened and endangered species. The alteration will also meet necessary green stormwater initiatives.

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