REPOST from today's print edition:

The fourth and final phase of the 17-years-and-counting exterior renovation of City Hall has begun.

The exterior perimeter walls of the 1.2 million-square-foot goliath have been scrubbed clean and renovated. All that remains is the courtyard, a $12 million job slated to last two years.

Last week, the courtyard - which serves as a major pedestrian thoroughfare - was blocked to traffic as laborers prepped for the renovation.

The courtyard should be open again in about a week, with large wooden fences separating pedestrians from the scaffolding and renovation equipment, said Robert F. Murray, deputy commissioner of the city Public Property Department. "The fences are for public safety. They're going to leave the courtyard partially constricted, but there will be pathways for people to get through," he said.

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