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Editorial: New city hall is a good addition to downtown

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On Monday the city of Farmington will open the doors of its brand new city hall, a 42,000-square-foot structure at the corner of Third and Spruce streets in the city's downtown business district. We don't think the building's perfect, but there's a lot there to like.

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Perhaps the building's biggest selling point is its location. Sitting on a corner formerly occupied by an auto body shop and a weedy vacant lot the building is a definite aesthetic improvement downtown. But that's not the only benefit of building on that spot. As city administrator Peter Herlofsky has pointed out, the decision to build downtown is a sign city officials are committed to preserving downtown Farmington. Where it made sense to build facilities like a new police station and a central maintenance facility closer to the center of the community -- those buildings both house vehicles that need to get out to all parts of Farmington efficiently -- the new city hall could help bring people into downtown as they come seeking permits or other things.

The building is visually striking. Its massive windows and the arch over its main entrance stand out among its neighbors. Next to the Exchange Bank building long touted as the centerpiece of downtown Farmington it's easily the most noticeable building in town.

That's a good thing, but maybe not all good. There are reasons for building city hall the way it now stands. Those big windows will let in plenty of natural light and should help cut energy costs, but the building doesn't exactly blend in with its neighbors -- one-story buildings like the Dakota County Library to the south and the former Dueber's building to the north. Walls inside city hall are designed to recall the downtown streetscape, but we would have liked to see a little bit more of that blending on the outside.

Whatever it looks like, the new city hall is here to stay. The building has additional space to accommodate the employees who will come with the city's growth through at least 2030.

We look forward to seeing the building fill up. Hopefully alongside a downtown district that is growing at least as fast.

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