Kemah City Hall soon will be much larger and wearing a new look.
The $1.7 million project includes renovation of the current 6,541 square foot facility and building a 3,834 square foot addition to it. Work got underway in late February after City Council gave its approval and the city hosted a ground-breaking ceremony with its construction contractor, Durotech, at City Hall.
When the current City Hall building opened in 1996, officials expected it to provide adequate space for the foreseeable future. But since then the Kemah Boardwalk, amusements, and restaurants have significantly increased the number of out-of-town visitors to the once quiet fishing village.
“Back when City Hall opened, we didn’t even have a city administrator, and not all that many visitors. That’s all changed,” Mayor Carl Joiner said.
One direct result of Kemah’s growth in tourism has been a related increase in the size of the Kemah Police Department to serve both the city’s year-round population and its millions of visitors. Currently the police department is spread out over two floors, with few of its various offices adjacent to one another. Three officers work in a separate metal building in the parking lot behind city hall.
“Right now, we are very crowded and only have a 35-square-foot hallway that doubles as a report writing area,” Police Chief Chris Reed said of his department’s office inside city hall. “Having little space and being spread out hampers our communication.”
Increases in police staffing and in other departments to accommodate these changes have made the renovation and expansion necessary, he added.
Upon completion, the new Kemah City Hall, as envisioned, will boast 10,375 square feet of space.