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Boston Weighs Renovation Costs for City Hall

City officials are facing a dilemma for a building that might be aging itself out of usefulness.   January 18, 2023


By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor


Many institutional and commercial organizations face the dilemma when deciding how much money to spend on an aging and troubled facility. The dilemma can be even more complex when the building is high profile and the funding in question comes from taxpayers. Consider the case of Boston City Hall, which according to the Boston Herald, is “the subject of serious capital spending and maintenance focus as pipes and other parts of it reach the end of their useful lives and create issues that are pricey and tricky to fix.” 

City officials are facing this dilemma for a building that might be aging itself out of usefulness. 

“Things have changed in how people use buildings and what’s required, and we hope to update this building to make it last for many years in the future,” says Eamon Shelton, property management commissioner, noting both legal mandates and changes in technology. “There’s an intent to make this building work. 

“A lot of the equipment that either we’ve been replacing or we have plans in the capital program to replace is either near or at the end of its useful life,” Shelton said, noting that much of it is the original material put into place in the 1960s. 

The city’s current rolling five-year capital budget includes more than $188 million for City Hall-area improvements, though that encompasses a nearby city building and improvements from the $95 million Phase 1 overhaul — originally budgeted for $70 million — of the northern half of the city hall plaza that is currently wrapping up. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 25 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 

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