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Amarillo councilmember pumping the brakes on City Hall project

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Last week, Amarillo City Council gave City Manager Jared Miller the green light to begin negotiations with a firm designing potential city hall buildings, but a new council member wants to pump the brakes.

The learning curve for Place One Councilman Cole Stanley has been steep. He says he's been playing catchup on years worth of work in just months. The latest project is the city hall, which is moving ahead with an architect. However, that decision gets a no from Stanley.

“That two million dollars is a lot of money that we could spend elsewhere,” said Stanley. “I want to make sure that, before we spend that two million dollars, that we had to. It wasn't a 'want to'. It needed to be a 'have to'.”

Stanley questions if the city’s ready to move forward with an architect, adding there’s still some homework to do.

“I feel like we need to, as a council, a city staff and as a community, look at what our needs are first, then prioritize those needs. Once we know what we need, then we're able to better hire an architect to help us get where we want to go," Stanley said.

With his short time behind the dais, he said, he’s still seeing through the voters' lens, which means that money spent, costs taxpayers.

“I also want to still look at how much can we spend here to keep this building in good function and continue to stay here versus the large expense of moving, if we don't have to," said Stanley.

The options on the table are remodeling the existing building at an approximate cost of $28.5 million, refurbishing the Amarillo Hardware Building for $31 million, or new construction, which Stanley, who has a background in the industry said, could be cheaper.

“On a two-story structural steel building, located downtown with large parking areas, totally finished out and what we would need for a new city hall, the numbers came back at about roughly $22 million,” Stanley said.

However, the councilman said the city’s proposed costs includes things that his estimate doesn’t, such as furnishings, equipment, as well as the city’s ability to self-perform things.

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Stanley, who stresses he’s not against repurposing the hardware building, also voted against issuing certificates of obligation for the project, saying it should be left up to the voters.

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