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DeKalb city manager details City Hall move ahead of Tuesday's City Council vote

DeKALB – More details have been released about City Hall’s potential move from its Fourth Street location to a former bank downtown, including some planned improvements to the downtown space to get it ready for city use if the move is approved by the City Council.

City Manager Bill Nicklas announced Wednesday his plan to move from the current location at 200 S. Fourth St. to the Nehring building at 164 E. Lincoln Highway, across North Second Street from Eduardo’s Restaurant.

The Nehring building is owned by the DeKalb Park District, which has agreed to transfer ownership to the city. Council meetings and Planning and Zoning Commission meetings would be held in the DeKalb Public Library’s Yasunas room, in the basement.

The current municipal building has 118 parking spaces, according to agenda documents. There are
700 parking spaces within
11/2 blocks of the Nehring building, according to the agenda.

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said the move, if approved, would give the city a more accessible feel.

“We have heard the citizens when they said we want less government, not more,” Smith said Thursday. “We’ve had to downsize frankly over the last couple years because of fiscal conditions.”

According to Tuesday’s agenda, the city would make some renovations ahead of moving. Bathroom updates would comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The door to the entrance off Lincoln Highway would be replaced, and an interior ramp inside the front entrance would be installed. Renovations would also include carpet replacement and painting, and upgrades to the Wi-Fi and information technology components.

If the council approves the plan, the city plans to sell the municipal building, which was completed in 1967, as well as the municipal annex building across the street at 223 S. Fourth St. In total,
2.5 acres of city-owned property would be placed on the market, Nicklas said.

The revenue from the sale would pay for the renovations to the Nehring building, Nicklas said.

“I really think it’s a win-win situation for not only the Park District, but for the city,” Smith said. “To have a presence in downtown that will allow us to put the front face of the city in a historic building just makes so much sense. It’s community collaboration at its finest.”

The Park District now rents space in the Nehring building to the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association. Representatives of all three have been notified of the plan and told they would have until Dec. 31 to move out.

The lease for the chamber expires April 2024, and the heritage association’s expires June 2021. But each lease has a clause that would allow for a six-month notice of termination, agenda documents show.

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