MOORHEAD — City officials here have begun the process of establishing a price for a possible sale of city hall.
"We are considering all of our options," said City Manager Christina Volkers, when asked about an executive session of the Moorhead City Council that was held Monday evening, May 13.
Volkers summarized the closed-door session by saying council members talked about pricing in regards to a possible sale of city hall.
Lisa Bode, governmental affairs director for Moorhead, said talk of a potential sale of city hall is at "square one", and she is not aware that any specific locations for a new city hall have been explored at length.
Bode said reasons for possibly selling city hall include general growing pains associated with the growth of Moorhead since the mid-1970s, when the current city hall was built as part of the Moorhead Center Mall.
She said the cost of maintaining the property and the difficulty of adapting the space to advances in technology are among other reasons officials are considering a change, as is the general lack of room for staff to do their work.
The current city hall occupies what is considered the "tower" above the mall and includes a basement level, ground level and three additional floors of office space, which house the city council chambers as well as administration and engineering offices.
Each floor of city hall has about 7,500 square feet, according to Nathan Aakre, city assessor, who said the assessed value of property considered to be city hall is about $3.5 million.
The city also owns property surrounding city hall proper, including parking lots around the Center Mall.
Aakre said one parcel, which he described as parking lot space on the north and east sides of the mall as well as additional parking lot space on the south side of the mall, is valued at about $2.9 million.
Another parcel of parking lot space on the west side of the mall, including a parking ramp, is valued at about $2.4 million, he said.
How city hall is used has changed in recent months, with newly elected Mayor Johnathan Judd stating in January that he would give up his office at city hall so the space could be used by staff who moved out to make room for the newly formed city prosecutor's office.
The prosecutor's office was formed after the Clay County Attorney's Office said late last year that as of Feb. 1, 2019, it would no longer provide prosecution services for low-level city cases.
The city set up the prosecutor's office in city hall after the Clay County Board of Commissioners turned down a city request to use space in the law enforcement center shared by the Moorhead Police Department and the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
County officials cited concerns raised by newly elected Sheriff Mark Empting and other county staff, who said the plan could create safety issues and other problems.
The county offered the city space in a county transportation building some distance from the courthouse, but city officials said that location did not meet the city's needs.