SAN RAMON -- A 30-year vision in the making, San Ramon's dreams of building a new City Hall are leaping ever closer to reality.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a new design plan for a 44,000-square-foot building by San Francisco-based Korth Sunseri Hagey Architects. The design was unveiled to the public for the first time at Tuesday night's council meeting.
The nearly $14 million project would be developed at the southeast corner of Central Park at Bollinger Canyon Road and Market Place, where basketball courts are currently located. Iron Horse Trail and an existing skate park and baseball field would border the site. Groundbreaking could take place later this year.
It will feature a glass rotunda entrance with lots of natural light, attached to two floors of staff offices and numerous public meeting rooms, including a new council chambers that would fit some 125 to 150 people.
The first floor would house the council chambers and council preparation room, administrative support, information technology and passport services offices and a small police substation. On the second floor, the City Council, city manager, city clerk, city attorney, human resources, parks and community offices would be housed.
"This is going to represent a step forward," said Councilman Harry Sachs praising the city's ability to finance the project without taking on additional debt. "I think when this is built, this is something the public will look back at and say, 'Good job.'"
The city and Sunset Development Company signed an agreement in October, which cleared the way for the building's financing. The city will use $7.3 million that Sunset owes the city for a previous land purchase and another $7.5 million for 11-acres of land next to the park that the company has had an option to purchase from the city, to finance the deal. The money will also cover $1.4 million renovate the city library across the street.
Mayor Bill Clarkson said he was pleased to see the building will have a large rotunda for public events and six public meeting rooms, which would mean a quarter to a third of the building's space would be accessible to the public.
Councilman Scott Perkins said he was very happy with the design, though he had a few suggestions for expanding public meeting spaces. He also wanted to be sure that the glass building wasn't costly to maintain and that stray balls from the nearby baseball field wouldn't damage it.
Architect Ted Korth said the building would be built to environmentally-friendly Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, known as LEED, certification standards.
Councilman Phil O'Loane requested that other colors besides white be used for the building's exterior, so it wouldn't "look like an extension of Bishop Ranch." He also wasn't thrilled about the suggestion of a large city logo "with a giant condor or crow" on it.
"I'll drive by that every day, and it'll squawk at me," he said.
But a couple of residents, Jim Blickenstaff and Jim Gibbon, said the plans felt like they were being rushed and asked for more for chances for public input.
The design plans still can be amended -- they will now move to the Planning Commission for a vote in coming months, City Manager Greg Rogers said. After that, the council would have to approve the design with hard budget numbers.
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/JoyceTsaiNews.