ROANOKE, Va. -

Interior renovations to the Poff Federal Building are now substantially complete. Although a second phase of construction is planned, most of the employees who relocated have now returned to the building.

The work began in the summer of 2011 despite controversy, including opposition from 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte. He described the project as "a tremendous waste of taxpayer funds."

The General Services Administration maintained that renovation was the most cost-effective option for the building, and the project moved forward.

A second phase of construction will replace the brick facade on the sides of the building and repair or replace the parking garage.

Improvements included replacement of the curtain wall window system to reduce energy consumption and improve the workplace. The project also delivered renovated public restrooms, more energy efficient lighting, a high performance heating and air conditioning system and a new roof.

The U.S. District Court continued to operate in the building during construction, but the largest tenant, the Veterans Administration, had to relocate to other space downtown.

The renovations cost $50.9 million. The cost of relocating federal employees for three years has totalled $11.5 million to date.  The second phase of construction is estimated to require another $15 million.

We're told that most of the employees have returned to the building and the last group will return later this week.

And what about the sculpture that used to stand in front of the building on Franklin Road?  The GSA says it's scheduled to return in 2017.