MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Renovations to Morgantown City Hall are wrapping up, and city workers could be moving back into the building around the middle of March, according to Director of Engineering and Public Works Damien Davis.

The original contract for the work was $2.9 million, and after digging into the nearly 100-year-old structure, about $500,000 in change orders have been approved, pushing the cost to about $3.4 million. Davis said the contractor has worked through many unforeseen conditions as renovations throughout the building were completed.

“Commercial Builders, Inc., is the contractor, and they’ve done a really good job,” Davis said. “They have gone above and beyond in a lot of places—fixing and doing things that were not in their scope of work.”

Davis said there was no part of the building that went untouched in this renovation. As crews worked through decades of improvements and changes over the years, they also discovered things not part of the original plan, resulting in several change orders.

“As we demoed the building, we found things were one way, or while we were doing it, we should have added this, so we added that,” Davis said. “We tried to balance needs and wants—what was needed and what would be nice to do while we’re doing it.”

The elevator has been tested and approved, the HVAC system is running, flooring is installed, and furniture is assembled and ready for city workers. But the city council chambers will be the last area of the building to be addressed.

“Council chambers are the one thing we’re working on right now that’s a little behind,” Davis said. “We’ll likely have people in the building, and council chambers will still be getting updated, so it’s getting pushed to the end.”

Council chambers will undergo an extensive makeover to the point that frequent meeting attendees might not recognize it.

“We’re doing new carpet in there, painting, and building a new Dais for them,” Davis said. “Before, they were sitting up above everybody, and we’re going to move them down and put new lighting in the room.”

Through the design and construction phases of the project, great care has been taken to preserve the historic character. Windows have been restored, and the front of the building will again have large bay doors like 100 years ago when the fire and police departments operated from the building.

“We tried to keep a lot of the stuff that made it historical, and we also tried to give it a modern look as well,” Davis said. “Lighting, finishes, and paint to make it look both modern and historic at the same time.”

When city hall does reopen, it will be home to code enforcement, finance, urban landscape, maintenance, special projects, permits, and the city ambassador program with Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli. The City Annex near the Morgantown Market Place, also on Spruce Street, will be home to City Manager Kim Haws, Human Resources, Grant Writing, and Information Technology.