Built in 1972, Norristown Municipal Hall currently houses almost every administrative office to manage municipal operations: Norristown Police Department; Norristown Fire Department; administration; building and code enforcement; finance; and planning and municipal development. Council Chambers is also located in Municipal Hall for the Municipal Council to hold their public meetings.
Discussions to renovate the building have been on-going since the mid-2010s, and is recorded as a talking point at council meetings since 2016. Council approved the final plans in Nov. 2019 and then approved the issuance of a bond to fund the $13 million project in May 2020.
Since the fall of 2019, a number of burst pipes in the building has exacerbated the need to move quickly to get the renovation underway.
At their July 2020 work session, Municipal Council approved the terms of a lease agreement that moves non-police offices to Logan Commerce Center at Johnson Highway and Markley Street. Offices are expected to be housed there for 18 months starting in late 2020.
About the project
The $13 million renovation will provide the most substantive changes to the almost 50-year-old building, replacing its aging infrastructure with a new HVAC system, electrical and plumbing. Gorski Engineering, Inc. will be the project manager and Seiler + Drury Architecture is the firm providing architectural services.
An expansion of the building’s floor space will increase the overall square footage from 36,000 to 45,000 square feet (measurement expansions). The expansion involves cutting down the size of Council Chambers from a two-story room to a one-story room and putting more offices in that second floor space. The building’s attic will be converted from a storage space to office space.
Scope of the work (per the advertisement for bids):
1. Extensive renovation of the existing 4 story (with basement) 38,893 SF steel framed and masonry, construction type 2B building of same use into a 46,395 SF facility.;
2. A 562 SF (footprint) Four-story steel and concrete addition clad in masonry and aluminum window wall, to be used primarily for vertical circulation and added administrative space. The addition will feature a stair tower, elevator shaft and topped with a membrane roofing system over tapered insulation.;
3. A 2,648 SF one-story masonry and concrete addition to house the detention area and drive-in sally Porte of the renovated Police facility.;
4. Renovation of existing 4,635 SF Basement level from Police related, back-of-house functions into long term storage and mechanical space, including a limited use elevator system to assist in the secure movement of materials.;
5. Complete renovation of existing Ground level Police facility, including locker rooms, evidence and equipment storage as well as administrative spaces. This will include the extension of an existing stair tower down, into and through the Ground floor space to basement below.;
6. Complete renovation of existing First floor Municipal Hall, including a Public Police lobby and administrative offices and a shrunken Council Chambers.;
7. Complete renovation of existing Second floor Municipal administrative offices to similar function including the partial floor infill of the existing double-high Council Chamber space.;
8. Conversion of the Third-floor space into administrative office area, including the erection of two thru-roof dormers. This will include the extension of an existing stair tower up and into the third-floor space.;
9. Existing slate tile roofing will be removed and replaced with a synthetic shingle system. New addition roofs will receive a membrane system.;
10. Complete window systems replacement and partial renovation of existing façades.;
11. The project includes a complete systems replacement and redistribution within the existing services footprint of the building, including electrical, mechanical, plumbing and sprinkler, and;
12. Site work will consist of all public spaces immediately surrounding the building as well as a reconfiguration of the existing parking lot and all associated lighting. Included in site work is: excavation, regrading and reconfiguration of parking, site lighting, stormwater management, plantings, curbs, paving, pavers, walks and site furniture.
How did we get here?
It has been a years-long journey in the making; 2020 marks the segue into the construction phase. Here is the timeline for how the project culminated.
June 16- Municipal Administrator advises council upgrading the building is an on-going discussion.
May 16 - Gorski Engineering hired as a project construction manager for the Capital Improvement Plan. The building renovation is part of the C.I.P. and review of the building will be a task for Gorski.
Aug. 21- Gorski provides update on municipal facilities.
Late 2018- After soliciting proposals for architectural consulting services, Norristown-based Seiler + Drury Architecture was appointed to create renovation designs.
April 16- Municipal Administrator updates council on the rehab project.
July 16- Gorski and Seiler + Drury present council with draft concept design.
Aug. 20- Council approves the renovation plans after a presentation on the project by the Municipal Administrator.
September- Discussion with department heads about the renovation design plans.
Nov. 19- Resolution 19-159 is adopted by a 5-0 vote of council to approve the final building design and to have Geotechnical Services completed.
April 21- Update on renovation and parking lot project by Gorski.
May 5- Bond issuance approved by council to provide $13 million for the project (Ordinance 20-10).
May 19- Update on the Municipal Hall Parking Lot project by Municipal Engineer Khal Hassan and approval of final land development (Resolution 20-40).
July 7- Council approves Gorski to be the project manager for the Municipal Hall Renovation project (Resolution 20-50).
July 19- Terms for an 18-month lease agreement are approved by Council for temporary office space for non-police operations at Logan Commerce Center,
Aug. 5- Municipal Administrator advises council of potential early move out to Logan (before December).
Municipal Hall Renovation Fact Sheet (PDF)