San Bernardino City Hall

San Bernardino City Hall. (File)

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 11/22/16 – 11:09 PM PST |

SAN BERNARDINO >> City employees are one step closer to completely moving out of City Hall, removing a substantial earthquake risk but also leaving another downtown landmark vacant.

The City Council voted 7-0 Monday night to authorize City Manager Mark Scott to lease office space in Vanir Tower and 215 N. D St., both essentially next-door to the 43-year-old City Hall building that seismic experts say is likely to fall during a strong earthquake.

That’s part of a plan to move all of the roughly 200 employees who work in City Hall to three locations: Vanir Tower and 215 N. D St. as well as the building that used to house San Bernardino Employment and Training Agency, 600 N. Arrowhead Ave., until SBETA shut down.

The lease begins Dec. 1, but the day of the move isn’t certain.

Officials intend to seek a grant to retrofit City Hall so that it meets modern earthquake standards and employees can move back — eventually. But that will take more than $14 million and an extended period of time, according to the city’s engineering study.

First, officials plan to retrofit the city-owned building behind City Hall, at 201 N. E St., that used to house the Economic Development Agency, and move employees from the leased buildings into the EDA building once it’s ready — something that will take 12 to 18 months, staffers estimate.

But Scott said the city couldn’t get a lease for less than two years, a period that has them paying more than a longer-term lease but compares favorably with the county government’s five-year lease in Vanir Tower.

The city will pay $1.55 per square foot for 215 N. D St. and $1.80 per square foot for Vanir Tower, which is at 290 N. D St. — a total of $42,688 and $21,566 — per month for the first year of the two-year lease, and a bit more for the second year. Additional costs associated with the move, including Information Technology costs and a moving company, approach $500,000, according to the staff report.

The 2016-17 budget approved by the City Council in June includes $1.6 million for moving costs, out of $112 million in general fund spending.

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