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Have You Been Inside the New City Administrative Complex?

Novato Patch gets a tour of the brand-spanking-new seat of local government

Construction crews are still working outside the new administrative complex at 922 Machin Avenue. It is expected to be completed by early January.
Construction crews are still working outside the new administrative complex at 922 Machin Avenue. It is expected to be completed by early January.

Novato's new administrative complex has been a dream for city employees for decades.

A little over a week ago, the dream was finally realized when staff moved into the 2-story facility on Machin Avenue after a seven year absence from downtown.

Work is expected to last until January, but staff say the complex represents a new chapter for the city. The courtyard outside could be used to host various community events, such as the farmer's market or the annual Paint the Town Red event, acting as a center piece for Novato.

"People talk about creating a town square in Novato and we think that this accomplishes that goal," City Manager Michael Frank said.

The exterior of the 19,000 square foot building is painted the same berry red as the town hall with its signature rooster on the steeple. Meanwhile, the space inside is light and airy, with plenty of windows and sky lights. A glass railing stretches from the first floor to the second, a symbol of the transparency the city takes seriously, according to Frank.

Departments have been better integrated, with Planning, Building Inspection and Code Enforcement in one area.

"It just creates a smoother experience, whereas before people had to go floor to floor," Frank said. 

On the second floor, a long table with bar stools serves as a space where visitors can work or read while waiting for an appointment. As for parking, eight spots are available street level (with an hour time restriction) and 26 spots in the basement, available to residents between 5pm and 9am.

The construction and furnishing of the new complex cost the city $14.5 million, but most of the cost was covered by a refund from the Novato Redevelopment Agency, which formerly oversaw the transformation of blighted or undeveloped areas into productive economic areas before being phased out this year.

The city is borrowing $800,000 from the Vehicle Replacement Fund to pay for the rest of the project, after costs increased, in part because the city apparently never budgeted for a contingency fee, typically paid at the end of a project.

Some residents have criticized the project as unnecessary and even wasteful, including spending $440,000 on new furniture. 

"Why does the city need almost half a million on new furniture?" said reader Dave Robertson. "This isn't Beverly Hills! The city justifies this because it is all indirectly funded through a bond measure. But that is still borrowing and spending money that needs to be paid back."

Frank and the council have defended the construction, saying the new complex is actually cheaper than the $750,000 a year the city was paying to lease space at 75 Rowland Way. Novato also considered refurbishing an existing downtown building, but concluded that it would spend the same amount as building from scratch. Instead, it opted for a venue that would serve Novato for the next 50 years.

Have you been inside the new city administrative complex? What do you think?

Sam November 26, 2013 at 05:01 AM
Ok Let's tell the truth ! . City cars fill the 26 spots in the basement available to residents between 5pm and 9am. This is a lie as most city cars are there 24/7. The City also has rented parking spots for city Personal to park personal cars at 7250 Redwood blvd, the building on the corner of redwood and De-long. Oh yes some city employes can park at whole foods and walk to work in the rain.
Nancy November 26, 2013 at 09:45 AM
More waste of taxpayer money!
Concerned Citizen November 26, 2013 at 09:48 AM
so to be clear there are 8 parking places at city hall. If you figure an hour to attend to any business and discount the fact that it will most likely be filled with those trying to park for downtown the math is simple. The departments most visited are open 9-4 closed an hour for lunch. So 6X8 = 48. With over 52k residents you can be guaranteed a spot to visit sometime in the next 1200 days. Seems like an ideal place for residents not to be able to access the new dream building for city employees. I guess it is a dream because no one can get in. Sweet deal....
Craig Belfor November 26, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Look at the bright side. The city council fired 24% of the workforce to make room in the budget for the new building, so those folks won't be looking for parking, and the tickets and tow jobs from Whole Foods (remember Whole Foods opening day, when the city made bank on the tickets?) will help balance the budget. Now if we can just get these girls to stop ordering furniture--hey- the drapes don't have to match your shoes.
HistoryLover November 26, 2013 at 11:31 PM
Yes, I have been inside. I was shocked at how there is WAY less room in the building department for the public to wait to meet with planners for their permits. Previously, there were three rows of chairs - usually filled due to the limited hours of service. Now, there is one-third the space and seating. Patch should go in and interview people. Most of the employees I spoke with were angry because they had no heat (wearing coats and hats) and the noise was so loud from the jack-hammers out-side the window. That's only temporary, but no parking is forever!
Mark Burnham November 26, 2013 at 11:42 PM
"Novato also considered refurbishing an existing downtown building, but concluded that it would spend the same amount as building from scratch". Karina, since the city spoon fed you the above information perhaps you can answer this question for the readers: If it cost Umpqua/Circle Bank+ +$4,000,000 to build 20,000 sq feet from scratch why did it cost the city of Novato (taxpayers actually) $15,300,000 to build 19,000 sq feet "from scratch" just around the corner? Why did it cost the taxpayers $805 per sq foot to build these offices and a private bank to build theirs for $200 per sq feet? From "scratch" and about 100 yards away from each other? You should do a little digging before you parrot the laughable city council stance about this project.
Craig Belfor November 27, 2013 at 02:36 AM
Karina doesn't report. She repeats. Reporting requires research, and for the paltry salary Patch pays, she's doing the best she can. The thing that bothers me is the censorship. People who do not go with the official stance have been kicked off Patch and the police reports have ceased.
Karina Ioffee November 27, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Hi Craig. Only one user has been removed from the site and that's following MANY concerns from readers. No one is censoring you. Please!
Craig Belfor November 27, 2013 at 03:59 PM
So the question is who was it, why, and how many people did it take to get them kicked out. I remember Barbara Lee of Oakland was the only person in either house to oppose the invasion of Iraq, but she was not kicked out. Who was it?
Roger November 27, 2013 at 09:48 PM
I hope it wasn't Tina kicked off the Patch. I miss her.
Roger November 27, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Craig: Jordan is going to run for Council again, says he employees at the bakery.
Craig Belfor November 28, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Many concerns? Who decides? Tina was we'll liked, and we miss her.
Roger November 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Karina: If it takes 5 commenters to kick a poster off the Patch, may we get the same poster back if 6 people make the request? Actually, it shouldn't be a popularity contest. You should only kick a poster off the Patch for cause, like rudeness or personal attacks.
Craig Belfor November 29, 2013 at 09:54 AM
Sad thing is we don't get told who's kicked off, so we can't protest the action or even verify if it was just one person. I can think of several who I haven't seen in a while, and they all disappeared at the same time.
Sam November 29, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Why don't you say bubba for starters
Craig Belfor November 29, 2013 at 05:07 PM
I'm thinking of Tina. She disappeared so fast, after such long posts, that it's hard to believe that she could just quit cold turkey. As for Bubba, he committed suicide. He posted in favor of gay marriage, and if Novato has only 5 tea Party members, and he wasn't an advertiser, he had as much chance of survival as a plasma TV customer at WalMart getting to the counter without bloodshed.
Sam November 30, 2013 at 09:45 AM
Craig, How could you miss Tina as she posted on everything and all garbage posts 1,000 words long. People were so tired of that crap that they were leaving Patch.. Bubba Six Pack was very funny but rude to people. He still goes to the Hilltop on Friday nights with us for cocktails and laughs .
Roger November 30, 2013 at 11:10 AM
Sam: I miss Tina. Most of her postings were in response to rude, personal attacks. She kept her responses technical. I learned interesting facts from her....ones I checked out to be true facts.======= Karina: If Tina wasn't the one that you kicked off the Patch, just say so; otherwise, readers are going to assume Belfor is correct and Tina is the one. If it is the case, then I plan to email your management with my strong thoughts on this action. Since Tina has vanished, the volume of comments on the Patch has gone way down. Is that a good thing?
Sam November 30, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Roger, It was Bubba! What part of that don't you people understand ? Tina was a pain in everyone's side as it was her way or no way so she moved on to fool her own mind
Roger November 30, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Karina: Is Sam correct? Is Bubba the one that you kicked out of the Patch? He was rude sometimes.
Craig Belfor November 30, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Bubba, Tina, Novato Guy, My Way or Highway, Novato Avid, and many others have not been heard from for awhile. I'm thinking there was a big purge. Some of these people were rude and annoying, but they all contributed good ideas from time to time. If it only takes 5 people to disagree with you to get you kicked out, I'm probably next.
Michelle D December 02, 2013 at 03:06 AM
<i>"A glass railing stretches from the first floor to the second, a symbol of the transparency the city takes seriously, according to Frank."</i> Irony at its best.
Karina Ioffee December 02, 2013 at 01:31 PM
The person who was kicked off violated our Terms of Use, which can be found here. http://novato.patch.com/terms. He was warned repeatedly about this.
Roger December 09, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Karina: Thanks for explaining the rules for kicking someone off the Patch. Nice to know that you give posters a warning before banning them.
Craig Belfor December 09, 2013 at 12:39 PM
So who did you kick off, and what did they say that violated your rules?
Craig Belfor December 09, 2013 at 12:42 PM
So many people are gone, and each one probably thinks it was just them, so why don't you tell,us who it was?
Linda December 10, 2013 at 09:14 AM
Greg, Last time for you ok Read real slow so it sinks in ok It was "BUBBA"
Craig Belfor December 10, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Linda- I read the posts REALLY SLOWLY, and I still think it was more than one. Ask Buuba ( you've said in earlier posts that you see him at hilltop on Fridays) if he was warned, how many times, and over what comment. He never told anything but the truth, but his style was rude, and i'd like to know if it was style or substance that got him canned. This is Karina's Patch, and she gets to make the rules, but I'd like to not think that Bubba's last post in favor of gay rights was what got her mad at him.

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