Work underway now on Meridian City Hall includes removing lowered ceilings, adding new staircases and exposing windows that had been covered for years. As much as possible, the building is being restored to its original design.
"It's like plaster and they made it look like marble, and that's the type finish that we're going back to," said Ed Skipper, city clerk and chief financial officer for Meridian.
From the restoration of the marble and wood flooring to all the windows being replaced with the same kind that were originally used, city officials say this process has cost much more than expected.
"The issue with any old building is, you don't know what you're getting into until you take off some of the components and get down to the basics," Skipper said. "There were costs associated with contract work being higher post-Katrina. Petroleum prices were going up at that point, which affects the costs of everything."
Built in 1914, Meridian City Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Skipper says this alone has presented some additional challenges, especially as contractors work to meet modern building codes while preserving the building's historic integrity.
"We're governed by Archives and History rules and they require certain levels," said Skipper. "Where we may have proposed a less costly set of windows, for example, we had to get the higher cost window to restore the historic nature of the building."
Prior to work starting and any evaluations being done, the estimated cost for the project was around $8 million. With all of the unforeseen expenses that have emerged, Skipper says, in the end, the project will likely cost twice that, around $17 million.