Future City Hall Updates - February 2020
Posted on 02/18/2020
The effort to restore Common Pleas Courthouse and the Carnegie Library at Ivers Square, returning City Hall to its former home by the end of 2021, took another big step over the last month. City staff, partners and their team including Penzel Construction, TreanorHL, Strickland, ASDG and Koehler Engineering, have been meeting in the historic building and they reviewed their conceptual sketches with employees, partners and news media.
“We were excited to share our work and discover together a shared conceptual architectural vision,” said Joy L. Coleman AIA, Principal with TreanorHL Architects. The team has been discussing the vision, goals and needs for this very significant historical project - talking about history, the city, our community, the buildings and site. While the different elevations of the buildings and the topography of the site can be challenging to tie together, it also offers opportunity such as the two-story parking structure.
City Hall is the hub of the City’s support services, building activity and public policy-making. Utility billing staff will be relocated to other public offices – a move that frees up space at Common Pleas, and gives customers more options. The newly renovated City Hall will also be an ADA accessible and secure facility.
“Our community wants a modestly appropriate public administration building that supports key services, and honors and respects our unique history. We’ve gathered a lot of those insights and we’re giving some shape to a future City Hall that will serve this community for generations,” said Deputy City Manager Molly Mehner.

Staff is hoping for preliminary design approval from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in March before formally applying to SHPO for their approval, per terms in a 2008 Historic Property Preservation Agreement. After meeting with the State Historic officials, the design will be presented locally to the City’s Historic Preservation Commission in April. The local and state historic preservation authorities will review the project for adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The review ensures that the project safeguards the historic character and integrity of the two buildings.
Common Pleas has been at the center of Cape Girardeau civic life for more than 165 years. Shortly after the construction of the courthouse the Civil War erupted, and the building served as a military headquarters, a prison for Confederate soldiers and Southern sympathizers, and a hospital. Over the years, the building was used for numerous political, social and religious functions.

Over a year ago, the City was looking at a $20 million price tag to tear down and rebuild City Hall while the historic Common Pleas Courthouse at Ivers Square would lay empty with repair needs unfunded and unmet. In August 2019, voters approved the Capital Improvement Sales Tax renewal and thus, the plan to improve the water system, airport, streets and this City Hall / Common Pleas project. The project will save the landmark building by moving City Hall into an expanded facility for closer to $12 million (includes $6 million matching casino funding).

The County/Court is expected to vacate Common Pleas by May 31, 2020 or earlier. Construction at Common Pleas could begin as early as Spring 2020, with completion expected by September 2021. The public will be kept up-to-date throughout the project via news and social media. The City also intends to find a new owner and suitable alternative use for the current City Hall, Old Lorimier School, which will preserve the existing structure.