City officials wielded sledgehammers and took swings at dividing wall inside the Federal Building on Friday to kick off the renovations of the building for the new City Hall.

“City Hall is the front door of our city,” Mayor Bart Castleberry said. “As far as economic development goes, this is a great thing.”

The mayor thanked the city council, the architect and contractor, and the building committee, which consists of Executive Assistant Felicia Rogers, Chief of Staff Jack Bell, City Clerk Michael Garrett and Purchasing Manager Jamie Brice for making the new City Hall possible.

Allen Wagner, president of Wagner Construction out of Searcy, said his company was “grateful to be a part of this.”

“We always love to see a city growing,” the contractor said. “This is a sign of growth but it’s more than that — it’s a sign of investment because you’re investing in something that’s really going to last.”

Wagner complimented Rik Sowell Architects on the design.

“Your architect has done a beautiful job,” he said. “You’re going to have something that you can be very proud of that’s going to make everybody, when they walk in the door, they’re going to see what Conway is and that’s something we’re happy to be a part of.”

Officials purchased the building for $4 million in August 2018. By using a little more than $1 million the city received from Conway Corporation leasing the current City Hall and borrowing $2 million from the sanitation fund, officials bought the building without taking out a loan.

The city council approved using up to half of its $2 million reserve to cover renovation costs.

Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The ground floor will feature council chambers as well as offices for the Planning, Human Resources and Permitting/Inspections departments.

The second floor will include the mayor’s office, the city attorney’s office, the finance department’s office and a quiet room that Sowell said would be “primarily for nursing mothers.”

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