New City Hall deal reveals some distrust in Greg Johnson

New City Hall deal reveals some distrust in Greg Johnson

February 10
10:58 2016

Jynn Schubert | Staff Writer

@JynnWasHere

Denton City Council signed a lease last week on the two buildings south of the Square formerly owned by DATCU Credit Union for a new City Hall that will cost $4 million over 10 years, but not everybody is happy about it.

Council members say there just isn’t enough space in current City Hall West for groups like the planning department to operate, and are looking forward to the extra parking spaces the new facilities provide, but are weary about the expense of the deal.

“The rent is a lot of money,” District 2 councilwoman Keely Briggs said. “I am hoping we have a better solution in the next few years and can move out of there into a more permanent building.”

Other Denton residents are speculative of councilman Greg Johnson’s involvement in the move to the new building. Johnson’s commercial real estate brokerage, Verus Real Estate Advisors, is helping the new owners of the DATCU find tenants for the building. Johnson filed a conflict of interest form in April 2015, but plans to join discussions again in the summer.

“It bothers me that [Johnson] was involved in the sell of the DATCU property because it’s not beyond the scope of possibilities that he also had to know that the city was looking for new digs,” retired Denton resident Larry Beck said. “It raises the question of what he knew in advance about how likely the city would jump at this new property while he was negotiating.”

This, on top of Johnson telling fracking protesters he “hopes they become so disenfranchised by [their protest] that they will move” after citizens petitioned for the recall of councilman Joey Hawkins, comes not too far before the May elections. Johnson is up for reelection, against lifelong Denton resident Sara Bagheri.

Now that City Hall West is scheduled to be vacant, city officials are looking forward to finding a way to preserve or restore the building that holds historical significance to the city of Denton, Briggs said.

“We want to find some creative way to preserve [the building],”  Mayor Chris Watts said. “It’s City Hall, it’s a police station, it’s a fire station and it’s an important building in Denton.”

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