Piece of Mind: Princeton Moving Ahead With Municipal Complex

Jun 3, 2020

Princeton City Manager Derek Borg describes himself as being “pretty tight with the buck,” so he promises to build a new municipal complex for the city he administers at a reasonable price.

Borg said the city plans to move in fairly rapid fashion soon to break ground on a shiny new city hall development east of its current location on 14 acres of donated property along the north side of U.S. Highway 380.

“We are going to break ground on the project this year, in 2020,” Borg said with the sound of absolute certainty in his voice.

Financing for the project will come from $20 million in certificates of obligation the city will acquire, according to Borg. What will the money buy?

It will build a new city hall complex that brings “branches of every city department” under a single roof, Borg said. The complex will contain city administration, utility billing, City Council chambers, parks and recreation, police and fire departments, and municipal court. The public works department will remain in a “brand new building on the other side of town,” Borg said.

The city plans to expand its office space several fold over what it currently occupies in its current City Hall, which it rents from Marvin Gathwright, owner of MCG Construction. The city will turn that property over to the owner when it vacates its current location at a time to be determined.

City officials were able to save a tremendous amount of money on construction of the new site through the donation of the land on which it will build the complex. It comes from the Crossroads project developer. Borg said that Ron Thomas of International Capital Corp. negotiated the deal for Crossroads to hand the property over to Princeton officials.

Borg said the city is “in the final stages of design” for the complex and that it is “on schedule for completion. Much of it will depend on contractor availability.” Borg said he hopes to issue a call for bids on the construction project in a little more than 30 days.

Mayor John-Mark Caldwell said “it is past time” for the city to own the office from which it conducts business. “The city never has owned a City Hall or a municipal complex,” Caldwell said, “so this is a positive step for the city.”

Caldwell hopes “the citizens of Princeton will appreciate all of it.” He noted that “as the city grows, this will be a prime time” for it to welcome a “beautiful new municipal complex.”

The site will not be limited to just municipal government use, according to Borg. 7-Eleven has purchased property near the complex, Borg said, adding that an apartment complex also is planned. “We’re also hoping to get a hotel built out there,” he said, “but negotiations for that are still ongoing.”

In addition, the city is planning a new park with wetlands and hiking trails coursing throughout the property, Borg said. He added that the park will comprise about nine acres, with the municipal government offices occupying “four or five acres.”

The municipal complex is all part of Princeton’s effort to keep pace with the tremendous growth occurring along the U.S. 380 corridor from McKinney to Farmersville and beyond. Borg has estimated that the city population likely has tripled since the 2010 census pegged Princeton’s population at 6,807 residents.

The city will know soon enough just how much it has grown when the 2020 census is done. Indeed, construction crews – even during the coronavirus pandemic – have been hard at work building homes throughout the city.

So it is, then, that Princeton City Hall has outgrown its cramped quarters inside a rented building and will be ready – hopefully soon – to welcome residents into a shiny new municipal complex.

As John-Mark Caldwell said, “There will be lots of amenities associated with the complex. It’s a good thing.”

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.