Aldermen say they want to slow the process of the Red Cedar Building renovation project to look at the big picture. To do it right, they said, total renovation of the 80-year-old structure could take two years.
Alderman Herb Adams said officials always knew that to protect the historic integrity of the building while renovating it to its best use as a city asset would be a very expensive project.
The city purchased the Route 66 icon from the building founder’s great-grandson, Mike Gallagher, in 2017 to be used as a city of Pacific welcome center, history museum and family history library.
The building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was temporarily leased back to Gallagher as headquarters for his business — Gallagher Mechanical.
The architectural firm Patterhn Ives LLC was contracted to design the renovation of a mixed use of the building that would preserve its historic integrity.
At last week’s board of aldermen meeting, Adams questioned the status of the renovation design work being done by the architects.
City Administrator Steve Roth said two meetings between the architects and welcome and history center stakeholders had been planned and one had been completed. No date has yet been set for the second meeting.
Roth said once the second meeting takes place and the architects receive final instructions about the use of the building, they will begin to prepare design plans for the renovation work.
Adams said the city needs to get serious about determining the scope of the project, not only how the building will be used, but what renovations need to be done and how the city will pay for the work.
Roth said due to the historic significance of the building and the planned use, grants are available to restore it. However, the grant process is timely and it could take as long as two years to work through the application process and complete the work on the building.
Alderman Andy Nemeth said the city needs to go slow and get it right. He said during a recent tour of the building with members of the Smith family he became aware of the historic significance of the building.
“What worries me is that we will get the building and do the minimum,” Nemeth said. “The possibilities are great, but the city must do it right. I want to be sure that we don’t immediately move in after we have done the minimum. This building could be a showpiece for Route 66 and the city of Pacific. I want to make sure we are ready to spend the amount necessary to do this right.”
Nemeth also reported on the progress being made by Gallagher Mechanical, the Red Cedar tenant, to move its business out of the structure. He said Gallagher had made good progress to move out of the building.
“We could see progress,” he said. “He still has a decent amount of work to do, but I do think we need to go back out there in the next two weeks.”
Adams agreed with Nemeth, saying the city should withhold any action on the move until the next board of aldermen meeting.