BILLINGS - The city of Billings held an open house Thursday night to give the public a chance to weigh in on one of its big projects for the year ahead.
Right now, the Stillwater Building in downtown Billings sits mostly empty with the exception of county offices on the third floor, but that will be changing when it becomes the new City Hall/Law and Justice Center.
“It’s pretty much an open pallet for us to figure out how to design and layout city services being delivered out of this space,” said City Administrator Chris Kukulski.
The city purchased the old federal building last year at a cost of $13.5 million, but that price tag will soar higher to finish it.
Nick Lippert with JLG Architects says the building has good bones.
“It was a federal building, so it was built for federal specifications which means it's much beyond just a normal office building. It was built to nearly modern spec when it was built in the 60’s so just that alone kind of put the project that much more viable," Lippert said.
It also has a lot of room—215,000 square feet— which will provide plenty of space for courts, police, city attorney, and other administrative offices that are currently in several buildings. There will also be additional space that can be rented out.
“Law and justice is our first priority. The criminal justice system unfortunately the things we have been facing with crime all of that. The gracious support we have gotten from the voters on the public safety levy. Our priority is to get them integrated in shared working space in this building, “says Kukulski.
The hope is that will begin to happen sometime in early 2023. The city is planning on a few more open houses in the near future to gather more feedback from the public.