3 floors of Hamilton’s city building could soon be leased to outside companies

Administrators are close to signing leases with two companies that would bring the number of leased floors in Hamilton’s seven-story city government building to three.

That will help the city accelerate by about 10 years how quickly Hamilton city government will be able to pay off the $26 million in bonds that will be sold on the city government tower at 345 High St. to a city-controlled community authority, City Manager Joshua Smith said.

Of that $26 million in borrowing, about $10 million would be used to pay off what remains owed on the building, which was dedicated in 2000. Most of the rest will be used to finance grants and loans the city promised in October to the proposed $144 million gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center called Spooky Nook at Champion Mill, being built on North B Street.

“We have three floors of the building that by Jan. 1 of next year will be all under a lease,” if all goes according to plan, Smith said Friday, the day of Hamilton City Council’s annual strategic retreat. Smith declined to name the companies because the leases had not yet been signed.

The floors to be occupied by the companies are the fifth, sixth and seventh. Smith’s own office is on the seventh floor, so his office and the finance department will be moving to the fourth floor. The civil service and law departments, also on the seventh floor, will move to the third floor.

The sixth floor has been occupied for years by ODW Logistics.

“It looks like we should net $4.15 million,” accounting for improvements the city has to make to the building to accommodate the moves of city offices to other areas, Smith said.

“We’re going to utilize more space on floor 1 in a more productive fashion,” Smith said. “And we still have room to grow, because we still have some building that hasn’t been built out since it was opened.”

The council voted unanimously in February to sell the tower.

“We had a space planner come in from an architectural firm, and we were highly inefficient in terms of how we were utilizing our space,” Smith said. “So we can have, according to them, roughly 130-140 office workers per floor in this building, and we’re averaging around 30.”

The city also plans to maximize its use of the building’s first floor. One way it will do that is to offer more services on that level. Another way is to remove the fixed seats in City Council Chambers on that floor so the room can be used in more ways, with tables and chairs that can be re-arranged for various meetings.

The borrowing for the city tower likely will allow repayment through 2049, but members of council pushed for the option of paying it off much faster than that, as soon as 5-7 years from now.

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