Olympia City hall to revitalize downtown

by Ken

The new Olympia City Hall opened for business this week, with a public opening set for next week.  For the most part, the city hall is receiving rave reviews by those working there and those doing business there.

Supporters of downtown Olympia are excited that the city hall is located in that area.  Bringing some 250 employees to downtown will go a long way towards helping local businesses.

But, as with all new activities, the opening of the new Olympia City Hall will have some challenges.

Not having parking for the 250 new employees is one that will cause problems for everyone involved.   The city says there are a number of options for city employees which range from walking a few blocks from the parking at the old city hall, riding a bike and using the shower facilities in the new city hall, to parking on the street and paying the going rate.

It was a calculated move on the part of Olympia officials.  No one should drive a car seems to be their mood, and they’ve proven it by not providing parking for their employees, forcing them to compete with downtown shoppers.

Moving into the new city hall will save the city money in the long run.  It currently has leases on several buildings and as those leases run out will stop making payments and save the taxpayer money.

Private owners of those empty buildings will then have to compete with other building owners and the result will be a reduction in the cost of commercial office space.   That will once again make Olympia an attractive place for private offices.

Cost to Olympia taxpayers of the new building is somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million dollars, when everything is added up.  The cost was increased because of environmental cleanup of the property and vandalism which added  about $10 million additional dollars.

This isn’t the first time the Olympia City Hall has been located in downtown.   Some 50 years ago the city hall sat at the corner of  State and Capitol Way.   But, when time came for a new building, city fathers opted to locate it on Plum Street, at that time, on the outskirts of the city.

Now, the city hall is once again in downtown.   Here’s hoping it does what city mothers and fathers want – – reinvigorate and restore Olympia’s downtown luster.

And, while city staff and city customers circle the block every morning looking for a parking spot, they should keep that idea in mind.

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