Woodstock researching new town hall options

by | Mar 5, 2024

If you build it, they will come: At least the own might come for the right proposal

Woodstock posted a pair of Expression of Interest requests on its website in search of potential developers to build or provide a structure to include a new town hall as a major tenant.

The requests outline a pair of options, including one to potentially utilize the former Woodstock Baptist Church lot at 690-694 Main Street.

The requests ask that any development must provide space to include 5,500 sq. ft to house the town hall.

Woodstock CAO Allan Walker explained the Expression of Interest requests are part of the town’s efforts to determine the best option to secure a new town hall.

While the council is aware of the decision to post the requests, Walker explained the decision didn’t require a motion as it didn’t indicate any particular action or official decision.

“At this point, it’s research,” he said.

Walker said Woodstock staff and council have long recognized the need for a new town hall and the municipality’s chronic lack of space. As a result, he explained, they are exploring all options to address the problem, whether it’s a long-term lease or building a new town hall on its own.

Late last year, the council opted out of a developer’s proposal to build a six-story, 75-unit apartment building on the town-owned former Woodstock Baptist Church lot across from the Woodstock courthouse.

The request for the former church property asks for detailed proposals meeting the specific guidelines outlined in the Expression of Interest.

The request outlines the town’s interest.

“The Town is seeking motivated developers to realize a vibrant and welcoming development that carries the ability to assist the Town in its goal of enhancing the Downtown through increasing residential and employment densities in the core,” the request explains. “As such, the Town is interested in a multiple storey, all residential or mixed-use development with ground floor retail or commercial space provided on the Main Street Frontage.”

The request added the proposed development must meet specific goals.

“The Town is also seeking an inclusive development that considers the broad needs of existing and future residents, including special considerations for students, seniors, newcomers, persons with disabilities, and overall housing affordability.”

The request explained Woodstock’s interest in signing a long-term lease to establish its town hall.

It added the town would not be interested in a submission to build only the town hall.

The second request for Expression of Interest in a town hall proposal expands the potential location to anywhere in Ward 4.

“The Town of Woodstock requires its town hall to be located in Ward 4 and be connected to municipal services,” the town interest section of the request explains. “A preferred location would be in the downtown core, but other locations in Ward 4 would be considered. The town hall can not be a stand-alone building and is to be the anchor tenant on the main floor of a multi-use building.”

The request details the minimum needs for a town hall, including one 12 x 24 ft office, eight additional offices, nine cubicles, a supply room, a janitor’s room, two washrooms, two meeting rooms, a lunch room, council chambers and a common area.

The requests explain that the town holds the right to ask any or all submitters to confidential interviews or reject any or all submissions.

Walker said the town’s municipal buildings, including its current town hall, the AYR Motor Centre, the Woodstock Police Force station, and the fire department, no longer offer the required office and storage space to meet the town’s needs.

The town renovated its council chambers late last year to house additional office space for the police department next door. The town also rented space on Connell Street to set up a satellite office to house administrative staff.

Walker noted the mayor and council addressed the town’s space shortages at the Tuesday, Feb. 27 council meeting during the discussion surrounding the future of the skate-sharpening services at AYR Motor Centre.

Space challenges at the sports facility put the service in jeopardy.

Walker said the council and staff will continue to search for the most efficient and cost-effective ways to secure a new town hall.

“The town is growing,” he said. “We need to be ready.”

Links to the Expression of Interest requests are available on the Town of Woodstock website:

https://www.town.woodstock.nb.ca/p/tenders-rfp

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