There was no fanfare, no ribbon-cutting ceremony and no City Council members present for a media preview at the new City Hall on Monday. However, there were some surprises.
Stepping over tangled masses of electrical cords and keeping clear of wet paint, Community Development Director Dan Fox guided a handful of media representatives through most of the new 40,800-square-foot building at 30111 Crown Valley Pkwy.
"We're hoping that people will come to the new building not just for council meetings or city business, but for more," said Fox, standing outside in front of the main doors of the building and near a blue-tiled circular "We want the community to feel that this is their building, a place they can come to and enjoy."
The estimated $22-million building that was paid for in cash is two levels. Fox said about 25,000 square feet will be occupied by city staff offices and departments. The overall theme is based around government, hence the that showcases a larger-than-life monument of the preamble of the Constitution. Its engraved words begin with "We the people," and it is the centerpiece of the courtyard, a place where visitors can gather. At night, the monument will be lighted up so it can be seen by those seated in the
There is also an with four rows of graduated seating that can be used for ceremonies, awards, proclamations and other special events, although it is not large enough for a rock concert. A large flagpole with a flag will be used as a memorial to veterans.
Also outside is what Fox refers to as the "History Walk," just off of the parking lot. It includes markers that will hold plaques "telling the story of Laguna Niguel from its earliest beginnings in prehistoric times to its incorporation in 1989."
As for the large fountain in the front courtyard, Fox said, "it is understated, and the jets will just be simple arcs—nothing like the Bellagio," Fox joked.
All of the fountain's plumbing is underground. There is also a state-of-the-art watering system for the
Once inside the main lobby, guests will see a 42-foot-high canvas with various photos of city landmarks, including the .
Under the stairway, with its glass paneling, is an area that will display a city artifacts, such as fossils including a large shell found in as well as a replica of the skull of a found when the 73 toll road was being constructed.
which has partition doors, will be available to rent by the public for events. A catering kitchen, complete with dishwasher, is in a separate area off of the community room. The community room will also serve as an emergency command center in case of a city emergency.
"The entire building meets Essential Facilities Standards codes, which means it is earthquake-proof; up to an 8.0 earthquake," Fox said.
Cabinets are also anchored to the floor to prevent tip-over in the event of a quake.
Perhaps the star attraction of the new building is the council chamber, complete with 100 movie-style seats, a broadcast room and mounted cameras to film council meetings that will be later shown on cable television. Above a large projection screen, in black letters, are the words "The same signage is above the exit doors in the council chamber.
Also on the main floor: reception area, and other departmental offices. There is an elevator that services both floors.
On the second floor, there is more office space, including that for the mayor and city manager. There is also an open patio area. To the right of the patio and break-room kitchen, river rocks cover the roofing to give it a "more finished look," Fox said.
The entire Fox said that between 30 percent to 40 percent of the building's energy needs will be met through the solar panels. Special shades have been installed on windows to minimize the sun's effects.
Other energy-savings throughout include ultra-low-flow plumbing, paint without harsh chemicals, automatic wall sensors for dimming lighting and regulating thermostats. There is also a backup generator that can run full time if needed.
The has leased a 1,000-square-foot space also with a separate entrance from the outside. Fox said the Chamber of Commerce staff will not move in until November.
The city staff will this weekend into the new facilities, Fox said.
"We should be open for business on Monday, and up and running," he said. "Everyone is very excited and looking forward to moving. There was a lot of community input and support during this project, and we got lucky with a great climate to build, and we had excellent bids."
There will be a at the new City Hall building beginning at 11 a.m., Fox said.
In addition to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and "plenty of activities, 'Benjamin Franklin' " will also be attending.