Standing in the lobby of Zionsville’s new Town Hall building, Mayor Tim Haak and Deputy Mayor Ed Mitro watched as demolition crews across the parking lot shattered more than a decade of municipal history into millions of pieces and snapped nearby ash trees like toothpicks.
Zionsville’s old Town Hall was coming down.
The town experienced tremendous growth and change with its offices headquartered in the 56-year-old former church building. Haak and Mitro have many good memories there, but it wasn’t hard saying goodbye. As the structure aged, employees ran out of space, suffered through a failing HVAC system that nearly got the building condemned a few years ago and – according to Mitro – learned to live with an “interesting” smell.
“The employees put up with a lot in that old building,” he said.
“They’ve died and gone to heaven,” said Mitro, whose new office includes a view of the Rail Trail and surrounding forested area.
And the increased space and new amenities aren’t the only reason they’re smiling. The $10.25 millon project finished ahead of schedule without exceeding its budget.
Before moving to the north end of the parking lot, the Town of Zionsville housed its offices in the former Zionsville United Methodist Church building at 1100 W. Oak St. ZUMC moved to a bigger space on Whitestown Road in 2001.
Besides the mounting maintenance issues, employees struggled with the layout of the building. It didn’t include an employee break room. Events in the community room were often overcrowded, and the town council perched where the pulpit used to be in a room that still looked more like a sanctuary than government office. The expanse of hard wooden pews often sat mostly empty and cold.
The new building remedies those problems and more.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Mayor Tim Haak said. “We benefit from having enough space to work in, increased efficiencies between departments and a lot more access for the public.”
Town employees are still “over the moon” about their new working conditions, Haak said, which now includes a dedicated employee break room with three refrigerators, plenty of windows to let in natural light and back hallways that allow employees from different departments to easily connect with each other, even though the departments appear to the public to be completely separate.
But the 42,600-square-foot building also was designed with the public in mind, Haak said. It will be accessible between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily to give Rail Trail users a place to rest, refill water bottles or use the restroom. A public plaza behind the building is expected to be complete in the spring.
The second-floor community room is double the size of the previous building and will give nonprofits and other organizations a place to host meetings and events. It’s also home to conference rooms available for public use, the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce and Boone County Senior Services.
“Sometimes it’s hard to conceptualize something on paper until you get in and see it,” Haak said. “The second floor is a prime example. That turned out far better than any of us could have expected.”
As employees settle into their new offices, they don’t expect to move again anytime soon. With Boone County and Zionsville expecting population growth in the coming years, the town is ready to grow with it. Approximately 5,000 square feet on the second floor will remain unfinished until it’s needed. The building is designed for expansion on its southwest side in the future.
The future has big changes in store for the site of the old Town Hall, too. With the old building nearly gone, construction crews will soon add a roadway to bisect the site and align with Brendan Way across Oak Street.
The town plans to sell the land in two parcels, one on each side of the new road, to developers. The west parcel will go out to bid soon, with its buyer expected to be known by the end of the year, Haak said. The site is within a tax increment financing district, meaning that new taxes collected from its future businesses will be used to support town development – in this case, the new Town Hall.
But for now, employees are just glad to have finally made the move.
“(We’re) happy in our new home,” Mitro said.
Town Hall Dedication
The Town of Zionsville will hold a dedication for the Town Hall at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at 1100 W. Oak St. Mayor Tim Haak and the Zionsville Town Council invite the public to see the new building during a dedication ceremony with guided tours, giveaways, appetizers and more. The event is free and no RSVP is required.