Brainerd: Council to bid city hall remodel project

Brainerd City Hall
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo

The Brainerd City Council agreed to solicit bids for the city hall construction project.

After bids come in, work is set to start in late October or early November on the project that will see a remodeled city hall, which dates back to 1914.

A 2017 facilities study showed several deficiencies within city hall, including a failing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, or HVAC, system, and space issues in both the main part and the annex portion of the building.

Space and configuration issues also plague the city’s police and fire stations, which are on track to receive updates as well.

City hall will be the Phase 1 of the multi-facility project, which has a price tag of $2.47 million right now. The total cost will likely increase in the future, however, as it only includes funds for HVAC control updates and a needs study for the fire department and not the price of upgrades.


Projects and estimated costs at city hall include:

  • Replacing cooling tower and heat pumps for new HVAC system, $660,000.

  • Upgrade HVAC controls, $26,000.

  • Repairing exterior south stairs, $25,500.

  • Replacing fluorescent light fixtures with LED lights, $120,000.

  • Replace ballasted roof, parapet walls and roof drains, $85,130.

  • Tuckpointing brick, stone and mortar, $95,000.

  • Install new guardrail and interior finishes for stair enclosure, $28,000.

  • Upgrade security system, $45,000.

  • Replace windows, $78,000.

The construction documents are about 95% complete, Mike Angland, of Widesth Smith Nolting, told council members during a presentation Tuesday, Sept. 3. He believes the project will be very close to those estimated costs.
Upgrading the HVAC system will create more usable space in the building, especially in terms of storage in the garage, which City Administrator Cassandra Torstenson said has humidity issues right now and often results in mold growing on anything stored there.

The new system will have temperature 22 zones, Angland said, allowing for more personal comfort within the building.

Office space in city hall will be reconfigured to include space for the parks and recreation department’s administrative staff. The department’s maintenance workers will eventually be housed in an addition at the street department maintenance garage on Thiesse Road, meaning the city can vacate the current parks and recreation building Lum Park, cutting down on costs for the city.

City hall will be remodeled one floor at a time, with the council chambers used as flex space for staff to continue working in the building and serving citizens while construction occurs.

Interior work will happen in four phases, starting from the bottom up, with council chambers being the last phase.

“With the exception of having the council chambers available during construction, we do feel confident that we still can have all city staff onsite, so we feel good about that,” Angland said.

Because council chambers will not be usable to the public during construction, the council agreed to have its regular meetings in the Crow Wing County Board Room in the historic courthouse for the time.


The county offered use the room and the option to program a new function into its technical system, which will allow the meetings to be livestreamed online. This will cost the city about $1,500 to set up, and that money will likely be budgeted as a professional service expense within the information technology department.

There will not be an option to broadcast city council meetings on cable while in the county board room, as the room is not set up for that process.


The bidding process will open Oct. 3, with interior work estimated to be completed by May 1, 2020. Work on the exterior of the building will likely take place between April and August.

Angland said he will come back to the council in a couple weeks, seeking approval to solicit bids for the police department. After that portion of the project is bid, he said the project management team will sit down and further discuss designs for the street and sewer building remodel and addition. That project will likely be bid in 2020.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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