Piles of boxes lined the temporary trailers in Holbrook-Palmer Park late last week as Atherton town staff prepared to move a half-mile away into the long-awaited new $32 million, Mediterranean-inspired civic center.
After a little over two years of construction, the two-story, cream-colored, nearly 30,000-square-foot City Hall building between Fair Oaks and Dinkelspiel Station lanes is nearly complete. Administrators are working on the first floor, while the public works, building and planning departments began moving into the building late this week, according to Deputy City Manager/City Clerk Anthony Suber.
From the Fair Oaks entrance, a donor wall will fit into a 10-foot-high by 14-foot-wide arched niche located in the lobby of the new City Hall.
The new council chambers will seat 50 people and be outfitted with technology that would allow for hybrid meetings, with audience members watching from home or in person themselves, according to the project's designers.
The police department will occupy the first floor of the new building in November, Suber said.
A landscaped courtyard in front of City Hall should be ready in December, he said.
The 10,000-square-foot library, located across the way from the administrative building on Dinkelspiel Station Lane, is set to open in December, he said.
The town plans to take down the temporary trailers in the park by the end of November, he said.
A long time coming
In 2012, after years of discussion about constructing a new civic center, Atherton voters elected to replace the old buildings and pay for the new civic center with donations.
In 2017, 61% of Atherton voters said in an advisory measure that money from the town's general fund could be used to help pay for the center.
The nonprofit, Atherton Now, raised about $5.2 million toward the project's design and construction, according to Town Manager George Rodericks. Residents contributed an additional $2.1 million directly to the construction. Remaining funds came from the town's general fund and fund reserves. In 2020, the town issued about $7 million in certificates of participation (COPs) to address cash flow. That COP is set to be paid off in 2025, he said.
Atherton's original 1,696-square-foot Town Hall opened in 1924, according to the town's website.
Atherton's police and administration buildings opened at 91 Ashfield Road in 1965, according to the town.
In 1968, town officials and San Mateo County supervisors agreed to lease Atherton Police Chief Leroy Hubbard's home, next to Town Hall (now the City Council chambers) to the county to house a library, according to the 2009 book "Under the Oaks: Two Hundred Years in Atherton."
Before that, a branch of the San Mateo County library was located in a small space in the police headquarters in Town Hall, shortly after it was inaugurated in 1929, according to the book.
For more on the project, go here.