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Hall and Gainesville may swap buildings
City aims to take over countys former government headquarters
All of the Hall County government offices in the Joint Administration Building have been moved to the Hall County Government Center. - photo by Tom Reed

The city of Gainesville may soon fully own and occupy the building known for more than three decades as the Joint Administration Building.

Gainesville and Hall County officials are hammering out an agreement to swap buildings. The city would own and fill the downtown building at 300 Henry Ward Way, while giving the county land on Prior Street to expand its Health Department, City Manager Kip Padgett said. The building is currently jointly owned, with the city owning a higher percentage.

“It’s kind of a win-win for both of us,” Padgett said.

The city would move its offices from the Green Street Station building that currently houses Gainesville’s community development department. The city then would look to lease that building.

“What it will help us do is take Planning, Human Resources and Payroll that are across the street from us and bring them into the same building we are so we can all be together for a kind of one-stop shop,” Padgett said.

The county owns a building on Prior Street that sits on city-owned land. The health department right now operates in two buildings on Athens Street and Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. The offices on Thompson Bridge Road are for serving children with special needs.

When county officials purchased what would become their new headquarters in 2010, then-Assistant County Administrator Phil Sutton mentioned plans to move offices of the state health department to the Prior Street building, the Times reported last year.

“We’re still in negotiations with the city of Gainesville on the property at the Joint Administration Building and as soon as all parties are apprised as to that contract, the agreement, then we’ll proceed forward, probably in the next two to three weeks,” Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix said.

Hall County moved out of the Joint Administration Building last year after establishing its headquarters in a building at the corner of Browns Bridge and McEver roads. Hall had housed its engineering department there, along with the offices of the tax commissioner and tax commissioner. They divided the space equally and the annual costs for operations and maintenance were split based on each government’s use of the building. That agreement was scheduled to last until 2017 or until the governments mutually terminated it.

The county bought the Hall County Government Center from Liberty Mutual for $6.1 million and spent about $2.9 million in renovations.