Redmond picking up Evergreen building proposal

Officials still want to move city hall into former school

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin

If you go

What: Redmond City Council meeting

Where: Council chambers, 777 S.W. Deschutes Ave.

When: 6:30 p.m. today

For four years, Redmond city leaders have envisioned a new city hall in the closed Evergreen Elementary School.

The worst recession in generations kept those plans in the drawing room, long after the city bought the building from the Redmond School District in 2010. But an improving economy, and a new source of funding, means the Evergreen conversations could shift back into high gear.

City councilors are scheduled to discuss the Evergreen building proposal at a meeting tonight.

Those talks could focus on the repairs needed to restore the 93-year-old building and make it suitable for use as a city hall, Redmond Mayor George Endicott said Monday.

Community Development Director Heather Richards said the meeting will offer a chance for city leaders to “discuss the next steps” to get the building back in good shape.

That may not be easy, and restoring Evergreen would be a roughly $8 million project. That’s the estimate an engineering firm gave the city after surveying the building last year, Endicott said. He said some walls in the former school will likely need to be torn down and rebuilt. The windows and doors need new framing; an elevator needs to be installed, and the whole building needs to be upgraded to meet earthquake and disability standards.

“We’ve asked our (community development and finance department) staff to take a look at the numbers and see if it works,” Endicott said.

Paying for the laundry list of upgrades would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, Endicott said. But rising property values and tax returns prompted the city to approve a $13 million urban renewal plan in late February. The plan would shift $13 million in future tax revenue into a variety of public improvement projects over the next 18 years, and finance things like park and street repairs.

It’s possible some of the urban renewal funds could go toward fixing the Evergreen building, Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky said. But the funds will be split among a variety of projects, so it’s uncertain just how much might go toward the $8 million Evergreen price tag.

Moving forward with the city hall plan isn’t a sure thing, either. But Endicott and other city officials have hoped for years to find a new home, and they’ve called a renovation of the Evergreen building one of Redmond’s top priorities.

Located at Southwest Ninth Street and Evergreen Avenue, on the edge of downtown, the 30,000-square-foot school building “is iconic,” Endicott said, “and the community has said they want to preserve it. So that’s our goal.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com