Commerce leaders got a first look earlier this month at designs for a potential rehabilitation of the town’s civic center. Representatives from Goodwyn Mills Cawood (GMC) presented renderings of the project at the Commerce City Council’s Nov. 15 meeting. Discussions are preliminary and the project has not yet been approved.


City manager James Wascher said the current special purpose local option sales tax referendum includes some funding for the civic center. He added the intent was to update some of the rooms and install a new elevator to replace an outdated one. But contractors and city staff discovered that issues with the historic, large building extended much further than that.

“Due to this, council tasked staff to work with some architects and engineers to get an assessment completed on the building as well as a couple options for a future use,” Wascher said in an email. “The Civic Center is a very old and historic building. It is a staple in the city; however, we found it needs significant repairs to electrical, plumbing and, in places, the structure. Also, the kitchen needs total replacement or removal as most of it does not work correctly. To address all the issues properly, we will need to open all the walls, floor and ceiling then replace them.”


Wascher said that led the city to begin working with architects on concept plans for the civic center.

GMC presented two options to the council at the Nov. 15 meeting. The first includes rehabbing the building and continuing to use the entire facility as event space. The second option is a more intensive project and includes a mixed use of event space and a new (relocated) City Hall.

Both proposals include the rehabilitation of the Civic Center’s basement, a large space that is not being used. Both also include the addition of warming kitchens, restrooms, lobby/pre-event space and storage.

Highlights from each plan include:

  • Civic Center only — This proposal would keep much of the existing layout, but open up the basement for events and divide the existing, large event space upstairs. The basement would include a large ballroom, along with large “open market” spaces. The existing lobby would be opened to the basement for a more “inviting” entry. The large second floor event space would be divided into one large area and one medium-sized area. 
  • Civic Center/City Hall combo — This proposal would be a major change to the existing layout and could include a three-story atrium space. With the current plan, the ground floor would include the existing council chambers, along with additional offices, waiting rooms and conference rooms, etc. The second floor would be converted to City Hall with offices throughout. The basement would become the main event space, with one large room, one medium room and two small rooms.

In both scenarios, most of the larger event spaces could be temporarily subdivided with partitions to allow more flexibility on event size.

If the facility is repurposed for the Civic Center/City Hall combination, the existing City Hall could be converted into a new Commerce Police Department headquarters. That move would allow the Commerce Fire Department to expand into the remainder of the building currently shared by the police and fire departments.

Wascher said Civic Center/City Hall combo would also help alleviate pressure on city office space.

“I’ve got one employee now who doesn’t have an office. I have no where to put them… As we start to grow as a city, we’re going to need to eventually start adding more staff. We have nowhere to put them,” Wascher said, adding the move would also help centralize city offices.

Wascher estimated the cost to be $8.5 million for the Civic Center only option or $9.5 million for the Civic Center/City Hall option.

Wascher plans to get additional information to the council on the cost of the project. Council members also asked for a comparison of building a new city hall facility versus repurposing the Civic Center.

“The cost of either scenario is still being developed. I presented a worst case estimate of $9 million (for just the building),” Wascher said in an email. “While it is a big number, there are a lot of things that can help to decrease it. The financial piece is what I am working on now. I will have more information on that in the coming weeks.”


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