Old school - or new Kingman City Hall?

The city could turn the historic Palo Christi School into a “new” City Hall if a proposal from City Manager John Dougherty is acted upon.  (ALAN CHOATE/Miner)

The city could turn the historic Palo Christi School into a “new” City Hall if a proposal from City Manager John Dougherty is acted upon. (ALAN CHOATE/Miner)

KINGMAN - Efforts to save downtown's historic buildings could lead to the city moving into the Palo Christi School.

City Manager John Dougherty at a Council work session held Monday to discuss proposed capital improvement projects said the move would allow the city to consolidate all of its departments on the site, and at the same time breathe new life into one of the city's most venerated buildings.

Palo Christi, which was built in 1928 and opened as Kingman Grammar School the following year, has major structural issues, including a roof that requires about $300,000 in repairs.

"It probably has lead paint, too," said Dougherty when he made the proposal. Indeed, the only part of the building that wouldn't be extensively remodeled is its façade. Dougherty noted the city long ago outgrew the current City Hall on Fourth Street, just a block or two away from Palo Christi, and many city offices are spread throughout downtown and beyond.

The Kingman Police Department is "bursting at the seams" at its location on Andy Devine Avenue next to Uptown Drug, as is the fire department's administrative offices on Oak Street, the city attorney's office and other departments.

Dougherty previously told the Miner it seemed silly to have the police department on a busy street that would better serve as a tax-producing commercial enterprise, and he also said the department's proximity to the railroad tracks presents a potential safety concern.

If Dougherty's plan is ultimately approved, the current city hall would be razed and the site, across from the historic Mohave County Courthouse, would be turned into a green area or perhaps an outdoor amphitheater, or any other public recreational use.

The ancillary buildings the city owns that house a number of city departments would be sold, with the proceeds possibly being used to help pay for renovations at Palo Christi.

Palo Christi is located at 500 Maple Street, within easy walking distance from the current city hall. It replaced the Little Red School House after it was constructed in 1928 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The Council could discuss the issue more fully at the first meeting in April. There was no opposition expressed Monday.