LAKE FOREST : City Hall May Get Cheaper Quarters

The city's first home could become a memory if the council members approve a proposal tonight for a new City Hall.

City employees have recommended renting a new building less than a block from City Hall at a price far below what the city is now paying.

The city could move into the proposed site in the Lake Forest Professional Center at 23161 Lake Center Drive for $1.36 per square foot.

The city now pays $2.17 per square foot for its home at 23778 Mercury Road. The move would save the city about $3,000 a month.

"It's a better deal than what the other bidders were offering price-wise," City Manager Murray Warden said. "And it's a lot more space."

The new building would give city employees significantly more elbow room.

The city now rents 8,276 square feet in a Mercury Road shopping plaza.

The new office building would provide 11,658 square feet.

The city could expand to about the same size at its present location but at a higher cost than in the building in the Lake Forest Professional Center, officials said.

A recent city internal survey concluded the present City Hall is too small to accommodate city employees.

Compared to counterparts in surrounding cities, Lake Forest employees deal with far more residents--a population of 60,000--in much smaller quarters.

Neighboring Laguna Hills staff works out of a 11,515-square-foot City Hall serving 25,000 residents. Mission Viejo workers use a 26,000-square-foot civic building to service 92,000 citizens.

The city's City Hall lease expires Dec. 31, but officials have negotiated an extension that could let them stay at the site until April 30.

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