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Council President Ben Hueso today expressed his support for a new City Hall, calling the current building a “blight,” “dysfunctional” and a “horrible place to work.”

At a City Council committee meeting this morning, Hueso called Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen’s plan for a new 34-story City Hall a “wonderful design,” singling out the proposal to locate the council chambers on the ground floor as an aspect that will increase public participation in city affairs.

Hueso said he opposed a suggestion of Councilman Carl DeMaio — the project’s chief opponent — that the city should continue to study its options for staying in its current buildings or renting out other buildings at the same time it proceeds with negotiations with the developer.

If city council members decide to start negotiations with Gerding Edlen, DeMaio said they should ensure the public will have the final say on the project, citing a provision of the city charter that requires the electorate to approve any “major public project that confers a significant private benefit.”

Also at the committee meeting, Councilwoman Donna Frye asked development staffers to look into the idea of including a downtown library on the site.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer also asked about some fire sprinklers in the City Administration Building, the building most people think of as City Hall.

Faulconer had noted that there are sprinklers on the 10th floor — where the council members have their offices — but he’s heard they’re not actually connected and functional. CCDC’s vice president for redevelopment, Jeff Graham, said he’s heard the same thing, but no one seemed to know for sure. Faulconer said he’d find out.

Faulconer also voiced disbelief that CCDC couldn’t find the original schematics for the City Administration Building, and Councilman Todd Gloria thought it was “ridiculous” that CCDC consultants couldn’t determine if the building had its original roof. (Graham noted that the consultants relied on visual inspection.)


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