Thursday, October 1, 2009

Groundbreaking for Bowie's New City Hall

The groundbreaking ceremony for Bowie's new City Hall was held yesterday morning. The new building is expected to open in December, 2010, and it will be located on property behind the Bowie Town Center at 15901 Excalibur Road.

The following image shows what the new City Hall will look like when it's completed.

Voters approved a 2005 referendum that paved the way for the creation of the Bowie Police Department, and the city has been dealing with space issues in the current city hall building on Kenhill Drive ever since. The Bowie City Hall is currently located in the former Fox Hill Elementary School, and the large hallways in the building are an inefficient use of the 39,500 square footage. The new building will have approximately twice the square footage as the old building, and it will have a layout that will be more conducive to the city's needs.

Additional details about the new City Hall are available in a Baltimore Business Journal article.

The city was able to save millions of dollars on the cost of the new City Hall due to favorable bond ratings that reduced the interest rate that the city will have to pay on bonds being used to finance the construction. Standard and Poor's issued a AAA rating for the City of Bowie, and favorable ratings were also issued by Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. The great credit ratings reflect the city's history of sound fiscal management as well as the favorable employment outlook for Bowie and the surrounding area. According to this blog post, the City of Bowie continues to have the lowest unemployment rate of any city in Maryland, and despite the recession, the unemployment rate is half the national average.

The current economic climate also created a competitive bidding process among prospective contractors, saving the city additional money.

Although the economic conditions were ideal for financing a new Bowie City Hall that eventually had to be built, the project faced opposition from Bowie Councilwoman Geraldine Valentino-Smith and Councilman Todd Turner. Both Valentino-Smith and Turner expressed concern that voters in Bowie did not have an opportunity to vote on the large expenditure via a referendum. The voters did, however, vote in favor of a new police force, but perhaps voters intended for the Bowie Police Department to occupy a trailer behind City Hall (their current headquarters).

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