Those driving past the new City Hall building might notice a curious sight – a sea of lights that remain on, day or night, rain or shine.
Tanyan Farley of Athenian Group, who serves as project manager for the new City Hall, is all too familiar with the malfunctions and complexities that have kept the lights on inside the former Pier 1 tower at 100 Energy Way.
He’s been on the receiving end of emails asking about the lights and even whether the city plans to light Christmas trees around the building. Those decisions aren’t up to Farley, but fielding those questions is the nature of running a public project, Farley said.
“We try to be as open and transparent as possible, with the good things and the bad things,” Farley said. “We know there are some frustrations with this building, talking about the lights and some of the mechanical elements that we find along the way. But that’s why you do what you do, right?”
He points to a variety of reasons for the lights remaining on throughout the night. One is simple: Private tenants occupy four floors of the building, and some employees work late. What they do is out of the city’s control because those companies control their own utilities, Farley said.
The building also has a difficult-to-control decorative lighting system that isn’t “super flexible,” but the city does the best it can to use it for special events, such as turning the building purple for TCU’s college football playoff run, Farley said. Other lights on the city-controlled floors are kept on for emergency and life safety purposes.
“Because you’ve had so many tenants in here, there’s multiple lighting control systems, which is pretty difficult to deal with, as you can imagine, for an operator,” he said.
Farley and his team face an ongoing dilemma: They either can’t turn off the lights, or if they can, turning one set of lights off results in turning off more lights in other parts of the building.
The tower’s renovation will include replacement of the lighting controls so that it runs through one system, he added. The first wave of renovations is expected to begin later this year, while wave two will be in the early part of 2024.
The third and final wave of renovations is expected to be completed in the first half of 2024, Farley said. All three portions of renovations will include upgrades to the building’s electrical and lighting control systems, he said.
“Our goal would be to bring each individual floor online one at a time,” he said. “The control system is planned out and designed and done. It’s just a matter of implementing it over those portions.”
The accuracy of those timelines depends on whether – and when – Farley’s team and the city can obtain a necessary permit to build in a federal floodplain. Fort Worth residents have until June 4 to share their thoughts on the city’s permit application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will make a final decision on the new City Hall plans in the coming months.
How do I submit public comment?
The public notice can be found here. Comments must be submitted to CESWFfirstname.lastname@example.org before June 4 and reference the Section 408 Request ID # and project name. The Request ID # is 408-SWF-2022-0004, and the project name is Fort Worth City Hall.
Telephone inquiries and requests for more information should be directed to Jason Story, at (817) 886-1852, or to CESWFemail@example.com.
Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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