New city service center, natatorium nearing completion

Columbus’ $32.5 million city complex on the grounds of the old Columbus Square Mall is nearing completion and is expected to be open by early June, Deputy City Manager David Arrington said Thursday.

Leading a media tour of the facilities, Arrington said the 370-space parking deck is “virtually complete,” the City Service Center is about 90 percent complete and the natatorium is just a little behind that.

“One of the main purposes for the Citizen Service Center relocating to this site was to improve citizens’ accessibility to the central government services,” Arrington said. “We believe making it more convenient in a center-city location will improve accessibility to those services and make it more convenient for the citizens.”

2WR of Georgia is the primary architectural firm on the City Service Center project. Hecht Burdeshaw Architects is an associate firm on the project. Tim Jenson of Hecht Burdeshaw said the building was designed to make the most oft-used city offices the most available once citizens get to the complex.

“The Citizen Service Center is on the first floor intentionally, flanked by the departments that are most frequented,” Jenson said. “Everything is laid out with the citizen in mind.”

The 64,000 square foot building will house the 311 Citizen Service Center, tax assessors, tax commissioner’s tag and property tax offices, elections and registration, council chambers, Deputy City Manager Lisa Goodwin, finance, parks and recreation, CCG-TV and a small police precinct. It will also feature a first-floor community meeting room that can be used for events.

The 57,000 square foot natatorium features a 50-meter Olympic swimming pool that has 10 lanes running length-wise and 20 lanes running the 25 meters across. At the west end of the pool, two 1-meter and one 3-meter diving platforms will look down on 13 feet of water. The pool tapers down to about six feet in depth on the east end.

To the east of the competition pool, a 25-yard pool will serve as a warm-up/cool-down pool for competitors and for physical therapy and exercise.

A mezzanine level has seating for 900 spectators while locker rooms have space for 300 lockers.

The competition pool holds 680,000 gallons.

The old Columbus Square Mall was the city’s first enclosed retail mall, opened in 1965. As the city grew to the north, Peachtree Mall debuted in 1975, drawing business from the Macon Road mall.

In 2000, the city bought the failing mall for $7.5 million in 2000, closed it a year later and razed it 2002. A new main library building went up in 2005, then the school district’s headquarters opened in 2009.

The projects are being financed primarily by the 2008 Local Option Sales Tax and the 1999 Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax.

The projects are being built by a partnership of two companies — Brasfield & Gorrie of Kennesaw, Ga., and Humphreys Associates of Columbus.