Vestavia Hills moving forward with $15 million municipal complex

Vestavia Hills' current municipal center off of Highway 31. (

Plans to build a new municipal center in Vestavia Hills are moving forward. {}Tuesday evening, city officials began interviewing construction managers for the $15 million project. {}Mayor Butch Zaragoza says the city expects to close on the land for the new center by the end of the month.

Vestavia Hills will pay $1.15 million for the old Food World in the Vestavia Plaza Shopping Center. {}The building has been empty for about four years. {}The city is also buying an adjacent property, which formerly housed Joe's Ranch House, for $825,000. {} The money to pay for the properties will come from the sale of the current municipal center. {}Chick-fil-A intends to buy the lot. {}Because the sale is not yet final, the mayor declined to name the amount of the offer. {}However, he did say it would be enough to buy both Food World and Joe's.Both buildings will be torn down. {}Construction could begin in several months. {}The construction costs will be covered by a bond issue, which the mayor says should not be a problem for the city. {}Vestavia Hills has some of the highest ratings in Alabama. {}In fact, on Monday, Fitch renewed its AA+ standing.If all goes as planned, construction will be completed in July 2015, allowing city offices - including police and fire - to move out of the current 30,000 square foot building and into the new 50,000 square feet complex. {}That will be a relief to Mayor Zaragoza, who says, "we have 324 employees... and we've got individuals that are two and three people sharing offices that we need to relocate."