Work is progressing smoothly on Columbus city hall’s renovations.
City officials allowed media to tour the building Wednesday afternoon to view the progress that’s been made since work began in the fall.
The city has a $1.5 million interior and exterior renovation under way for the aging building, which was built roughly a century ago and was last renovated in the 1980s. It is being paid for by a Community Heritage Preservation grant through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
J5 Broaddus Project Manager Jabari Edwards Jr. said the project’s first phase — work on the windows and doors, demolition of the building’s interior — has been proceeding as planned.
The work includes raising the ceilings back to their original heights, returning the windows to their original form, pulling up the floors, cleaning brick in the building and other steps.
“The first thing is the demolition phase and that’s gutting it out — taking everything out to make some space to give the architects a good look at everything,” Edwards said.
George Irby, assistant to the director of community development, said plans for the interior renovation will go for approval before the Archives and History board during its March meeting. After that, the Columbus City Council will begin a bid process.
Irby said advertising in April and allowing 30 days for bids to come in would likely see construction start in early summer.
He said it’s not yet clear how long the interior renovation will take. He said the city has until the end of 2016 to complete exterior renovations and 2018 to complete the interior.
“Since they (Archives and History) are pretty particular about what they want and since this is an older building, I think it will take some time to do, but sometime in late 2017 or 2018, I think we’ll be moving back,” he said.
Edwards said the building’s age has provided some unique twists to the interior demolition, as well as some unexpected discoveries.
Two fireplaces, previously covered by walls, were discovered in the mayor’s office, along with small safe built into a wall in one of the first-floor vaults. Officials also discovered an old gun near a sewer line where a since-removed toilet was once located inside a separate vault.
“The things that you find, or the antiques — it takes you back,” Edwards said. “It was a shocker, finding a couple of things that we did find.”
While the Main Street structure is being worked on, city officials are being housed near the Municipal Complex.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.