The long-awaited demolition of the Midlothian city block that will be the future home of the new Public Library and City Hall took place on Monday September 12, 2022. Construction of the new facility that was approved by voters in the May 2021 bond election will begin after the first of the year, according to Clyde Melick, assistant city manager. Construction is expected to take 16 months.
“The city was very fortunate to own much of the property where the new facility will stand,” notes Mayor Richard Reno. “Of course, we were all sorry to see the old brick building at 211 W. Avenue F razed,” he observes. To preserve the history of the building, some of its features will be incorporated into the new building. Spotlighted in a photographic book called Then & Now, the building once housed a theater-seating company, a café, a dress shop, and in the 1890s a hardware store. Most recently it was occupied by Rally Sportswear, which relocated to 3350 N. Highway 67. Before that, it was home to the former building owner’s quilting shop.
The new city square was identified in the city’s Downtown Plan as a catalyst project intended to attract private businesses to downtown. Approved by City Council in July of 2020, the Downtown Plan envisions a thriving commercial and retail environment, modeled to maintain a small-town, main street personality. The traditional design of the new building is inspired by the original historic architecture, while at the same time offers the access, convenience, and amenities one would expect in a modern public building. For the last 17 years, A.H. Meadows Library has been located inside Midlothian High School. “Having an easily accessible public library will be a welcome addition to the community and will attract more visitors to the library and downtown,” says Mayor Reno.
The planning effort for the Downtown Plan began in 2019 and included meetings of the Downtown Master Plan Advisory Committee, stakeholder interviews, public input exercises, a charrette problem-solving session, and an online survey of more than 1,200 respondents.
Subsequently, the need for a new City Hall and Library was evaluated by the Citizens Planning Group that ultimately recommended to City Council that the project be included among the four bond projects approved by voters in May 2021
Since the bonds were approved, Midlothian City Council has held focus groups and workshops to guide the design and construction of the City Hall/Library facility, as well as the new Public Safety Center that will be built at the current site of the Midlothian Police Department, 1150 N. Highway 67.
“With the successful openings of two new restaurants downtown recently and the excitement around the re-development of the Lawson buildings on the corner of 7th Street and Main, we are well on our way to revitalizing downtown into a vibrant destination,” says Mayor Reno.