City staff looks at options for turning Missouri Room into office space at Great Falls Civic Center

City staff has outgrown the available space in the Civic Center and the city court judge has indicated the need for a second judge in the near future. An additional judge would need a courtroom and right now, there’s no space, according to City Manager Greg Doyon.

City staff is moving forward with design options for turning the Missouri Room upstairs in the Civic Center into office space. Doyon said if that were to happen, the planning department would move into the Missouri Room and other departments would shuffle around the building.

The cost for design options is about $3,980.

Doyon said staff looked at using some of the convention center for office space, but that was cost prohibitive.

Staff also presented options to the City Commission about using the Gibson Room for office space, but commissioners declined that option since that room is used regularly for various purposes.

The Missouri Room could accommodate a larger department and isn’t used as much, according to Doyon. The room is 4,160 square feet.

City data shows the Missouri Room was rented for 51 days in fiscal year 2017 for a total revenue of $19,215.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Mary Moe said the Missouri Room is “the jewel” of the Civic Center. She said had “great reservation” about turning the room into office space, but was willing to look at designs and consider options.

When departments are spread throughout the Civic Center or other buildings, it could hinder efficiency, Doyon said.

Commissioner Owen Robinson said that a lumber company he owned initially had employees scattered throughout buildings. When the business burned down in 2002 and a new centralized space was constructed.

“It was surprising how efficient we were in a setting where we could all be together,” Robinson said.

Commissioner Bill Bronson said he was fine with looking at designs, but further action would take more discussion.

In recent years, the city looked at using the building that currently houses the Children’s Museum. The building is owned by the city and the 15-year lease between the city and the museum is up in November.

According to the lease terms, it will be renewed at that time for at least another five years, but the rate can be negotiated. For the original 15-year lease, that rate was $1 per year.
[READ: Children’s Museum lease]

Considering that building as an option for city office space is still on the table, Doyon said.