Featured photo: Greensboro’s city council (photo by Gale Melcher)

Why is the city of Greensboro spending $733,000 on renovating the city attorney’s offices?

According to City Attorney Chuck Watts, it’s been a long time coming.

These offices haven’t been renovated since the building was constructed in 1970, Watts told Triad City Beat on Tuesday.

Watts said that the council agreed to do a renovation when he first arrived in 2019. However, real steps in that direction have dragged on since then.

“I need to be able to adjust the temperature,” Watts said. “We don’t have that capacity right now.” On Tuesday, city councilmembers voted to award the contract to O.U. Chavis Contracting Corporation, with Councilmembers Sharon Hightower and Zack Matheny voting against the contract’s approval. Hightower said she voted no because O.U. Chavis didn’t meet the minority or women business enterprise goals, or M/WBE.

Greensboro City Attorney Chuck Watts (photo from the city of Greensboro’s website)

These ‘70s offices were designed in a way that boggle Watts’ mind.

“We have attorneys’ offices that don’t have windows, essentially caves,” he said.

“They’re disorganized,” he added, noting, “People come into my office and get lost on the way out. This happens to almost everybody. It’s a mess.”

“There’s no soundproofing, attorneys need soundproofing sometimes. Me in particular,” he chuckled.

Their document prep room and break room double as hallways.

“We have a conference room that doesn’t work; it’s not modern,” Watts said. This conference room, which also doubled as a document storage area, will be turned into offices. Those old documents have all been digitized anyway and they’ve moved toward being a paperless office, so there’s no need to use it as a storage area any more.

Bewilderingly, one of the largest rooms in their office is the reception area, Watts said. “We’re an internal facing organization, we represent the city and the staff,” he said. “We don’t have meetings with people that just walk in off the street.”

They don’t have a receptionist, and Watts alleges that the sofas in the waiting area have never been used in the five years since he’s been here. 

“We’ve had maybe four people that walked in there and had to be directed somewhere else,” he said.

The reception area will be turned into the new conference room, which they’ll share with the IT department.

“There’s a little room, a nook really, you could probably fit in it but not with another person. We don’t know why it’s there,” Watts went on, adding quickly: “We’re going to get rid of that.”

These changes are necessary, Watts feels. 

“It’s time,” he said with relief, adding, “We’re gonna have a break room and we’re gonna have a document prep room that don’t double as hallways.”

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