Alex City mayor mulls 'plan B' for moving city hall

Alex City mayor looks to other options for city hall
The plan 'B' is the old Russell sales building, a modern facility with 86,000 square feet of space. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
The plan 'B' is the old Russell sales building, a modern facility with 86,000 square feet of space. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

ALEXANDER CITY, AL (WSFA) - The old Russell textile headquarters in Alex City is no longer the site for the city's new public safety building because it's coming down. Plan 'B' is in the works with a different twist.

"You know we have issues from heating and air," said Alex City Police Chief Jay Turner of his current office space as he looks over what could be the police department's new home as well as that of the fire department and every bit of city hall.

It's a modern, 86,000 square feet of space with more room than he can imagine.

"Still close to downtown area and a good size building," he explained.

The initial plan was to convert the vacant Russell office into a new public safety building but a feasibility study suggested it would take $3 million or more to bring it up to code. The city council unanimously voted to tear it down.

"We are thankful for what Russell did," said Alex City Mayor Jim Nabors. The move strikes at the heart of his past; Nabors spent 30 years with Russell in the same building they're talking about converting.

"It's emotional for a lot of folks. It's the only building left in town that identified itself as the old Russell company," Nabors said.

Meantime, boxes are piling up in city hall and parking is limited. That's why the mayor has his sight on what used to be the Russell sales office off Highway 280.

"So it's not something we just start without knowing what the answer is cost-wise," Nabors admitted.

He and city leaders will rely on another study to determine if the more modern structure is a better fit. The property comes with a guest house and if all goes according to plan, the mayor hopes to be in the new building one year from now.

"Room for storage is one of our biggest issues," said Chief Turner.

Until then, city employees like Turner can only dream as they outgrow their current departments.

If the move comes to fruition, Nabors says the old city hall, which used to be a bank, will likely be used as potential retail.

WSFA 12 News got a sampling of community reaction to the potential move and those asked were all favorable to the mayor's idea.

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