Beaufort SC Moves Into First New City Hall in 150 years

It’s a heckuva birthday present to the people: As Beaufort, South Carolina, prepares to celebrate its Tricentennial in 2011, City officials began moving last week into their first new City Hall since before the Civil War.
“It’s the first City Hall we’ve built in Beaufort in 150 years, and it’s built to last 100 years. That’s a nice way to celebrate our fourth century, and this is also the first piece of civic infrastructure in our Boundary Street renovation plan,” Beaufort City Manager Scott Dadson said.
The 33,000 square foot City Hall complex sits at the northern tip of Ribaut Road, across from the Beaufort County Government Center and adjacent the City’s one-year-old police and municipal court complex.
The City Hall and police/court project, approved by voters in October 2007, is opening four months late but within budget, Dadson said. The $20.6 million cost includes land, the City Hall and police/courts structures, roadway improvements, technology and all furnishings and equipment.
The delay resulted when the glass storefront systems’ manufacturer wasn’t able to coordinate the intricate hardware necessary to complete the exterior glass storefront entrances in a timely manner, which slowed down installation of other key components necessary for a City Building Inspections Certificate of Occupancy, said Keith Whatley, project manager for LCK Construction Services in Columbia.
His firm managed the construction project, with Leopardo Construction in Chicago (and formerly of Charleston) serving as general contractor. Liollio Architecture in Charleston provided design services.
City staffers have been packing up their items at the former City Hall location at Carteret and Port Republic streets, with movers on Thursday and Friday toting the materials to the new site about a mile away.
The Carteret Street City Hall formerly served as the city’s post office. Previously, Beaufort’s City Hall had been located in the Carnegie building, in what is now Mike Rainey’s Antiques store, and in a structure at Carteret and Craven that burned in the big city fire of 1907.
Beaufort was founded in 1711 by the English, although its beginnings date back to Spanish explorers in 1514. Beaufort was named for Englishman Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort (1684-1714), one of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.
Beaufort City Council met for the first time in the new facility Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Highlights of the new City Hall include:
•Improved efficiencies with City staff working together under one roof, rather than in multiple locations due to the size limitations of the previous administration building; the City at one point was paying more than $100,000 annually in leases to house its police and other departments
•Better public access with a parking lot and on-street parking, as well as improved public visibility at the major intersection of Ribaut and Boundary
•Both City Hall and the police/municipal structure are built to withstand hurricane winds, and back-up generators allow the facility to serve as an emergency command center
•City Hall features 6,100 square feet of space for future use or for lease by government-oriented tenants
•Multiple conference rooms to enable various staff, department and committee meetings to be held on site
•Consolidating key staff under one roof; previously, the planning and codes enforcement operated out of the Carnegie building on Carteret beside the historic Arsenal
•Locating frequently-used public services near the front door for convenience, including business licenses, permitting, planning and codes enforcement.

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