Work began Thursday on the first phase of the demolition project of the old Fricks building in downtown Union.
The former grocery store is being razed to make way for a new Union city hall.
Union City Administrator Russell Rost said the entire demolition is expected to take place this summer paving the way for construction of a new city hall to start this fall.
The razing will be done in phases with the city’s work expected to start later.
The Fricks building is in two parts — the original brick building and a metal addition. As part of the sale between the city and the previous owner, Darren Newbanks, requested to handle the removal of the metal addition.
Rost said Newbanks expressed interest in salvaging the structure and using it elsewhere. Starting Thursday, Newbanks was working to clean out and remove the metal building.
Once that process is done, the site will then be fenced in, Rost said. With the metal building removed, the brick structure won’t be secure so the fence is needed to protect the building.
Rost said the city will follow Newbanks’ work by abating the building and then razing the rest of the structure.
He added that the goal is to have the abatement bid out and finished by the end of June. The demolition of the building is scheduled to be done by the end of July.
The city is expected to get a design estimate update at its June 10 board meeting from the project manager, Navigate Building Solutions.
The board also will look at interior finishes.
In July, construction documents would be finalized. After that, the project would be out for bid by August with work starting in September.
The goal is to have most of the construction done in September 2020 with city staff moving into the building by October 2020.
The city agreed to purchase the former Fricks grocery store in late March 2018 for $475,000 from Central Markets Inc. The city stated it intended to use the site for the first permanent designated city hall in Union’s history.
Rost said the city has a rough expectation of the project costing around $5 million.
The city has never had a building designated specifically for city hall. Through the years, it has shared space with the fire department, police department and now the city auditorium.
The auditorium has encountered Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues. Last year the city hired Horn Architects to conduct a feasibility study on the current auditorium.
The firm studied remodeling city hall, purchasing an existing building and renovating it to meet ADA standards, or building a new city hall.
When Horn Architects presented its ADA accessibility findings to aldermen in July 2017, it described the city’s situation as “death by 1,000 cuts.”
In all, nearly 200 barriers and 18 life-safety issues were reported. Barriers are any object or policy that inhibits or prohibits the use of any space, program or activity by those with disabilities.
Life-safety issues ranged from noncompliant exits and emergency lighting to not having a fire sprinkler system, egress doors having noncompliant hardware, stair guardrail issues, too few egress exits and other issues.
Based on the study, the city decided the best way to move forward would be to leave the auditorium and build a new city hall.