October 11, 2007

Local Couple Announces Plans to Donate New City Hall to Memphis

Would you accept a $250,000 gift? That was the question posed to the Memphis City Council at the board of aldermen’s October 4th meeting.

A proposal was presented to the council for the donation of a new city hall for the City of Memphis. Sandy Arnold made the proposal on behalf of Bob and Rennetta Rockhold, who pledged to build a new city hall and donate the property to the city.

“I’m seeking the city’s permission to use the proposed site to actually construct a building planned for use as a city hall,” Arnold told the council. “It is the intention of the owners, Bob and Rennetta Rockhold, to make a gift of the building and the property to the city. I am here tonight to ask the city to accept the gift.”

Arnold outlined the plans to construct a 2,074 square-foot building on the 60x120 lot located at 132 N. Washington, just east of the new Bank of Memphis building.

She presented a floor plan designed by architect Michael Kettlekamp of Hannibal. The design called for a larger meeting room as well as added office space and storage capacity.

The proposed building would be handicapped accessible, offering an easily accessible lobby area for utility payments and other walk-in traffic. The site would feature 12 parking spots as well as handicapped parking.

“A unique part of the design is use of the existing city hall record’s vault door,” Arnold pointed out. “The architect plans to use the original door on the entrance to the new archive’s room.”

The building will feature a brick exterior as well as a unique tower entrance way at the northwest corner of the facility.

With an estimated price tag of $200,000 for the building combined with an additional $25,000- $50,000 cost for the property, preparation and infrastructure, the donation likely could exceed a quarter of a million dollars.

“The new city hall will be deeded in full to the City of Memphis upon completion with no restrictions,” Arnold said. “There are no strings attached. The Rockholds are happy to be in the position to make this gift to their community.”

Mayor Roger Gosney stated the move was a win-win situation for the city.

“The plans call for a more user-friendly facility that is handicapped accessible, better parking and more space for our employees,” Gosney said. “I hate to see city hall move off the square, but a new, more efficient building is a betterment for the community as a whole. I don’t know how we could not embrace it.”

City Hall has been housed in the current location on the southwest corner of the square for nearly 50 years.

A move to the new location would open the site for use by other city offices or for rent or sale as a commercial site.

The council approved the proposed building permit for the site. Arnold indicated construction is expected to begin this week.

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