Council to Get Sneak Peek at Muni Building Redo, Update on UNT's Downtown Law School

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Mighty kind of Dallas City Hall to offer all these briefings wrapping up a few loose ends before I get up outta here. First Sylvan Thirty, then the old Dallas High School, then the Cotton Bowl, and now Old Dallas City Hall, which one day should become the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law. If, that is, the state Legislature approves funding the law school by June of next year.

Should that happen, says a briefing prepared for tomorrow's meeting of the city council's Ad Hoc Legislative Committee, then construction will begin 2014ish with a tentative opening date of fall 2015. Fingers crossed; toes too.

Ostensibly, the reason for the briefing has to do with construction at 106 S. Harwood (the Old City Hall, built in 1914) and the circa-'56 Municipal Building Annex on Main, once Dallas PD's HQ. The latter's in the middle of Phase 1 of its $9.3-million redo -- meaning, its third and fourth floors are being made new-n-improved. The photos contained therein shows off some of that work; nice bathrooms (including the unisexy offering on the fourth floor, how Starck Club).

So what happens after that? Well, says the briefing, some time in August the city hopes to start looking for someone to give the Old City Hall's exterior a proper clean-up; that, says the city, ought to be done by December 2013.

But the interior rehab will be a difficult chore for myriad reasons, among them ...

... making sure the work adheres to the city's preservation standards (which will entail a few swims through the Landmark Commission), the scope of the work ("Restoration of historic spaces includes Main Street Lobby, 1st & 2nd Floor Corridors, Transaction Counters & Old City Council Chambers"), so-called "structural deficiencies" that need to be rectified, putting in new elevators, making the building ADA-compliant, and the need to keep open the basement connecting the building to the muni annex. Also, of course: There's going to be plenty of asbestos in need of abating. And: "antiquated utilities" need to be dealt with, which will involve sinking a new water meter vault and sanitary sewer line under the Commerce Street sidewalk.

The briefing doesn't say how much all that'll cost the city, which is responsible for the exterior façade and water infiltration improvements, with UNT handling the interior overhaul. But it was only last year that state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a D from Laredo, was trying to put $46 million toward the renovations.

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