City strikes deal to purchase Forward Financial facility
Bank’s Sixth Street building to become new City Hall
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — After months of discussion, much of which took place in closed sessions, the Marshfield Common Council has approved an agreement to purchase Forward Financial Bank’s facility at 207 W. Sixth St. for future city headquarters.
The city of Marshfield will pay $2.6 million for the Forward Financial facility. The purchase is contingent on the city also reaching a deal to sell City Hall to developer Gorman & Company Inc. Gorman intends to convert City Hall into workforce housing and has been in negotiations with the city since December of 2015, but no deal has thus far been reached for the sale of City Hall.
City Administrator Steve Barg said he anticipated the city moving into the Forward Financial building in the fall of 2018.
Mayor Chris Meyer has said that one of his goals in moving city headquarters is to save money for taxpayers. In October of last year, as the council approved seeking proposals for City Hall redevelopment, Meyer said, “This wouldn’t be before you tonight if there wasn’t almost a guarantee that we could save the taxpayers money by looking at this.”
On Tuesday night Meyer again expressed confidence that the relocation of city offices would be a positive for taxpayers. Combining what Gorman would pay for City Hall, the city maintaining leases on cellular towers atop City Hall, and moving city offices to a building that will cost less in maintenance, Meyer said taxpayers would likely save money.
“We’re very comfortable that we’re in a very positive position, actually, not just neutral but positive as far as savings for the taxpayer,” Meyer said.
Forward Financial Bank’s Sixth Street facility was built in 2004, according to Bank President and CEO Bill Sennholz, and is much newer than City Hall, which was constructed in 1929, according to public records. Forward Financial plans to build a new facility on the north end of Marshfield — east of Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts at 1001 N. Central Ave. — to consolidate its north- and south-end locations.
Barg said action to approve the sale of City Hall to Gorman would likely not occur until late May or mid-June.
Issues with City Hall
Prompting the city’s search for a new headquarters is the aging infrastructure of City Hall and the cost to update it.
A 2014 analysis of City Hall by architectural firm Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc. called out a long list of issues with the building, including but not limited to the lack of an overall security system, an air handling unit built “circa 1957” that still services the building, aging hot water boilers, and damaged ductwork. The study indicated that updating City Hall could cost about $2.6 million in maintenance that has been deferred.
City Hall is about 70,000 square feet, with Meyer and the study from Zimmerman indicating that city offices only require about 25,000 square feet. Sennholz has said his company’s Sixth Street facility is about 24,000 square feet.
Forward Financial’s new location
Forward Financial’s new building would be about 55,000 square feet “with three above ground levels and one below,” according to city documents. Site plans for the new facility show an additional 4,300-square-foot building, which could house a future tenant distinct from Forward Financial. The 4,300-square-foot building would only be constructed if and when Forward Financial agrees to a deal with a tenant.
“Although the structure could be used for other uses, the layout of the building and site is intended for a restaurant use that would meet the minimum parking requirements and have space available for a possible drive-thru lane,” city documents said in regards to the 4,300-square-foot building. Plans call for 176 parking stalls for the new bank and 37 for a potential future tenant.