ST. ALBANS CITY — The St. Albans City Hall renovations are nearing completion. Jim Cameron, the project manager, said he expects staff to return to their offices from their current temporary location in the auditorium next month.
The project was originally expected to be completed in March, but delays were caused by supplies which didn’t arrive on time, discoveries made when walls were removed and the removal of the downstairs vault.
“Demolishing the vault was a real big delay on the first floor,” Cameron said.
The vault was made of two-foot concrete walls, which were removed in 1,000-pound chunks, Cameron said.
Workers also discovered supports in walls that they hadn’t known existed, causing delays. “You find a problem in a wall and it may not cost a lot of money, but it takes you a week to find the answer,” said Cameron.
The renovation added two elevators to the building for accessibility. The auditorium received new windows. The woodwork was stripped and restored; bathrooms were added. Steps were also taken to improve the acoustics.
Offices were reconfigured on both the first and second floors, with a reception area added to the second floor.
But the renovation is more than cosmetic. Mechanical systems were replaced throughout the building, which is expected to use half as much electricity and heat as before.
When insulating the building, “we used thermographic cameras to make sure we had every air leak,” said Cameron.
The heating system now uses heat pumps. “You can’t get more efficient than that,” said Cameron.
The lights are all LED.
The city received a grant from the Vermont Energy Investment Corp. to help pay for the energy improvements.
The building now has sprinkler systems throughout. Before it had none.
“We probably uncovered six or seven sites of fires in the building,” said Cameron.
In the former council chambers, the interior of a wall was scorched across an area that stretched eight to 10 feet across and five feet high. Cameron said it was likely the fire was confined to the interior of the wall and went out from lack of oxygen.
Alternatively, the fire may have been extinguished and then the wall simply repaired, according to Cameron.
Work will begin this week on the front of the building where the steps will be extended and new sidewalks installed.
Once the work on the building itself is complete, the parking lot will be repaved with new lights and curbs added.