EXCLUSIVE: First look inside Arlington's new $1.9 million City Council facility
With just one week out from its opening, the Arlington Voice managed a sneak peek inside the new City Council meeting room
Arlington’s new City Council Chamber is about one week away from opening, and the Arlington Voice managed an exclusive sneak peek at what residents can expect.
With its final meeting in the old facility occurring on May 24, 2016, the Arlington City Council closed the doors of its 35-year-old council chamber to make way for an improved meeting environment that would complement the development of the new George W. Hawkes Central Library.
For almost two years, City Council meetings have occurred on the third floor of City Hall as construction crews have worked on the new 6,500-square-foot meeting space.
Billed as a “community building” in a city staff report and costing approximately $1.9 million, the space will not only be used by the City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission during its regular meetings but will also be available for “other public meeting space needs.”
An improved glass entryway featuring the city’s logo greets visitors as they enter the room. The same logo is cast in brushed metal and hangs front and center above the council’s seats.
Two large televisions – each made of nine displays and estimated at $85,000 a piece by a worker in the room – are mounted at the front.
In place of the name plates that were previously positioned in front of each councilmember’s seat, television displays are used instead. The room also features natural lighting, an improved camera system, and appears to seat slightly more than the previous facility.
While not noticeable during the Arlington Voice's walkthrough, a city spokesperson corrected the record that the facility does feature media seating in the back with fold-out desks, as well as a 10-microphone audio input for reporters who require sound.
The spokesperson added that the room also features "vastly superior lighting," which will provide better video quality for reporters.
The improved meeting space was tacked onto the demolition and reconstruction of the Central Library – an approximately $34 million redevelopment project that was started at the same time and is scheduled for completion in June.
The project also includes a new pedestrian plaza between City Hall and the library, as well as parking improvements.
A sidewalk is being installed around the new chambers to provide residents who are parking on the west side of City Hall easier access to the entryway on the east side.
Originally closed for the construction, a portion of Main Street between Center and Pecan Streets is scheduled to reopen at the end of April.
The City Council will hold its first meeting inside the new chambers on Mar. 20. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m., with the council meeting starting at 6:30 p.m.
CORRECTION: The new chamber space includes space for media