FLORENCE, Ala. — The current Florence City Hall has been in its location for nearly 70 years and city leaders are taking steps towards a significant upgrade.
The building has served as a municipal building since 1954 but some sections date back to the 1920s.
“When we look at city hall, it’s a space that should be a functionality for our citizens,” Planning Director Melissa Bailey said. “Within our current city hall structure, we have space that is underutilized because it’s simply not functional anymore.”
Many city departments, like the mayor’s office, operate in other buildings throughout the city. The new city hall would bring a majority of those departments under one roof.
Bailey will tell you; the current city hall is not the most attractive building in downtown Florence, and it has seen better days.
Shoals residents agree. “I think it’s a great idea to put a new city hall in because this one is so antiquated,” David Milstead, an architect and former Florence resident said. “It needs to be upgraded for electrical, plumbing, mechanical, all of that.”
Plans for two new downtown parking garages are also in the works.
“The current parking deck is more than 40 years old,” Bailey said. “It’s definitely lived out its intended lifespan. It’s got some structural issues.”
One parking garage would be attached to the new city hall for employee and customer parking while the other would serve the downtown area as a whole.
Bailey said the city will most likely demolish the existing parking garage and sell the land for future development. She said the cost of the three projects is expected to be between 45 and $50 million at the highest, but as planning continues, she expects that number to drop.