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Malden to seek more options for city hall relocation

Posted by Jarret Bencks  May 7, 2013 08:23 PM

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Officials in Malden have decided to look for more options to relocate city hall.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson requested Tuesday that the City Council seek proposals from developers to either construct a new, 30,000 square foot government center on city owned land at 100 Dartmouth St., or offer options at other sites that would be purchased by the city.

The council unanimously approved orders by Council President Neal Anderson during its Tuesday night meeting to put out a request for proposals, and form a five-member committee to review the proposals.

The request signaled a change of direction for Christenson, who had previously supported leasing land for a new city hall rather than purchasing a parcel or constructing a new building on city-owned property.

Christenson said Tuesday he no longer considered long-term leasing to be an option. He said the departure was a compromise with City Council members, who had indicated to him they wanted city hall to be owned by the city.

"I thought that leasing was the way to go, I am meeting them [the City Council] on that point," Christenson said.

Relocating Malden Government Center from its current plot at 200 Pleasant St., and reconnecting Pleasant Street were key points in Christenson's campaign for mayor in 2011.

The city previously put out a request for relocation proposals in November and received three back from Malden landowners.Two were considered to be viable options. One in which the city would lease approximately 30,000 square feet of office space on the second floor of 200 Exchange St., a property owned by KBS Realty Advisors; and another submitted by developer Combined Properties that called for the construction of a new, 30,000 square foot city hall at the corner of Ferry and Centre streets.

Neither of those proposals are considered options now, since both called for the land to be leased.

The 2.25-acre parcel on Dartmouth Street is currently a municipal parking lot with approximately 125 spaces. It's the only viable parcel for a new city hall that is already owned by the city, Christenson said.

As city hall relocation options go back to the drawing board, so do plans to relocate the city's public works yard. On Tuesday, Christenson announced he no longer supported relocating the yard from Commercial Street to a lot on Eastern Avenue that formerly housed the Boston Steel Co.

The Boston Steel location was voted down by the council's Public Property Committee in December, and debate over the site grew heated between Christenson and Councilor Neil Kinnon.

Kinnon vocally opposed the site as a DPW relocation option, and Christenson accused Kinnon of conflict of interest. Kinnon is the chairman of the board of trustees for the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, an abutter to the Boston Steel site.

On Tuesday, Anderson appointed Kinnon, along with himself, and councilors Craig Spadafora, James Nestor, and Barbara Murphy to the committee that will review city hall relocation options. Christenson said he supported Kinnon's spot on the committee.

A request for proposals for city hall relocation options is expected to be released May 14.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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