Also, the police and justice systems would be located in the former Adelphia Communications building on Washington Street.
Thirdly, the city building and property between Front and Second streets would be sold to a developer for construction of a hotel, convention center, restaurant or condos.
In an e-mail detailing the proposal circulating Monday, DeLynn Coppoletti, executive director of Portsmouth Area Arts Council, urged anyone who liked the sound of the concept to turn out in support of it at Monday night's meeting of Portsmouth City Council.
She - and others - did show and speak for the idea, along with a number of citizens who spoke out against it.
At any rate, that concept turned out to be the plan Mayor Jim Kalb's Advisory Building Committee recommended for the city council's consideration.
The mayor appointed the committee to review all past and present options for new government offices. The committee is made up of city solicitor Michael Jones, city auditor Trent Williams, First Ward Councilman Mike Mearan and Kalb.
The council voted 4-2 in conference session to move forward with the committee's recommendation, and have plans, prices and other information prepared for its approval.
The action merely put the matter on the agenda for the council's next meeting, March 24. The matter probably will require three separate readings at three separate meetings before its final vote.
Prior to that vote, council voted 4-2 against a motion by Third Ward Councilman Bob Mollette to modify the committee's recommendation to include renovating the present municipal building into the mix.
Only Mollette and Sixth Ward Councilman Richard Noel voted in favor of the motion.
Noel said he feared renovation work at the Marting's and Adelphia building might cost as much as $10 million and saddle taxpayers with too much additional to pay.
"If we renovate there, or if we renovate here, or tear down and build a new building here, it's going to cost probably the same," said Jones.
Williams said if renovation work cost $7 million or $10 million, depending on the number of years chosen to finance the work, the city probably was looking at an additional tax of 3 mils.
That would cost a resident owning a $100,000 house an additional $93 a year for the life of the levy, he said.
"I don't know why we keep coming back to this building," Mearan said. "You don't put good money after bad, and that's what we would be doing if we choose to renovate this building."
Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner said he liked the plan because the city would be partnering with the union people and the arts people, and the hospitals in accomplishing it.
He said putting his department on the first floor of a remodeled Adelphia building and the courts on the second floor would provide an extra layer of security.
"The Marting's building should be used for something. It is the center of downtown," said Austin Keyser, a member of Shawnee Labor Council. "If that piece of property is not worth anything, then there's nothing else in the city that's worth anything."
"And you'd never get anybody to build a motel where the Marting's building is, but they would build where the city building is," he also said.
Kevin Johnson, owner of The Emporium, near the former Marting's building on Chillicothe Street, earlier in the day said he's all for the idea.
"The local unions, non-profit groups, both hospitals, Portsmouth Area Arts Council, the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts - they're for it," Johnson said. "Parking is a concern, but it wouldn't have to be if the city would regulate and enforce it. The ordinance used to read two hours parking per 24-hour period, but they (City Council) changed it to read two hours per space. Now, when tires are chalked, the vehicle owners just come out and move their car up an inch or two, and stay right there all day."
Terry Ockerman, owner of The Loft, a block from the Marting's building, said there is adequate parking space behind Marting's for city employees.
"It would be nice to have parking issues again downtown," he said.
The first floor space would be a place were residents, students and employees could come for coffee, books and newspapers, and information about health, fitness, local events and upcoming art-related events.
Banks could operate financial centers there and offer on-site loan applications.
There would be an area where kids could come together and work on arts and crafts, or read a book. There could be lunchtime performances by Portsmouth Little Theater and Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra groups. There would be a pavilion for ticket sales to music shows and plays around the area.
Teresa Mollette, from the audience, scoffed at those ideas.
"You can do all that right now at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts," she said. "Bring the children in the lobby there for entertainment and games.
"And they say the hospitals are going to be partners? They can't do much when Southern Ohio Medical Center is right now laying people off. All this plan is going to do is hurt the little people - the people who can't afford to pay anymore taxes."
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.