Long Beach City Hall Returning To Downtown

LONG BEACH (WLOX) -- "Everything looked so green and pretty. Yeah.  But it's hard to look at the before pictures," said Becky Schruff.

Becky Schruff shared some before-and-after pictures of the old City Hall on Jeff Davis Avenue.  The Long Beach City Clerk has many fond memories of the 53-year-old building.  After all, she spent 25 years working there, before Katrina flooded what she called 'her home away from home.'

"Oh it was awful.  It was awful," said Schruff. "Overnight, everything was just destroyed."

Now, Schruff has some brighter pictures to look at.  Designs of the new Long Beach City Hall are on display in her office.

"Oh we're excited," said Schruff. "We were looking at the pictures this morning and everybody's like 'We want to start now! We want to start now!"

The 10,000 square foot-building will be two-stories tall, with a more modern architecture and plenty of storage space.

"I think the building is beautiful," said Schruff. "It's going to be one of the big high points on Jeff Davis."

City employees are looking forward to moving out of their trailers on Klondyke Road, and back to their original location in the heart of downtown.

"After being in these trailers, we're not going to know how to act with all this room, because you can see how crowded we are here," said Schruff.

"I think it's a very upbeat thing for the citizens," said Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie. "I think it's upbeat for the property owners on the street. Hopefully, this will spur some more development downtown."

The mayor doesn't know yet when construction will begin on a new City Hall, but he hopes to start demolition on the old City Hall sometime this fall. For those who have strong connections to the building, seeing it come down won't be easy.

"City Hall has been a big part of our life and our childhood and our adult life, so it's going to be sad to see it go," said Schruff. "But it's going to be exciting to see this new development come in."

"It's your headquarters. Just Long Beach," said Skellie. "Citizens will be proud of it for 50 plus more years."

The city will pay for the building with a $5 million Community Development Block Grant. The board of aldermen also voted to move forward with plans to build a new fire station on Second Street. It replaces the building on Fourth Street, that was destroyed by Katrina.