Hall County has finalized the purchase of the Liberty Mutual building on Browns Bridge Road and plans to move a number of departments over to the new facility starting in 2011.
Late Monday, the county closed on the acquisition of the building at the corner of Browns Bridge and McEver roads for $6.1 million.
The property includes about 123,000 square feet on 38 acres.
The building will be used to house a number of county offices and the purchase is funded by special purpose local option sales tax VI, which was approved by voters March 2009. Proposed occupants of the new building include administration, finance, human resources, public works, tax assessors, elections, planning, building inspection and parks and leisure services, among others.
“We are looking at consolidating as many of our departments as we can,” Hall County Administrator Charley Nix said.
“I’m thinking roughly 200 employees will be relocated.”
Hall County plans to sell its portion of the Joint Administration Building to Gainesville and its Rainey Street building to Gainesville City Schools.
According to plans laid out in SPLOST VI, $17 million was set aside for courthouse and administration, which will include renovating the 1936 courthouse and the courthouse annex for use by the Northeast Georgia Judicial Circuit. Part of the funding also will go toward finding a new home for the offices housed in the annex and the Joint Administration Building.
Nix said the Liberty Mutual building was a bargain that will save the county at least $9 million. He said the county purchased the space at between $40 and $45 per square foot, though more typical pricing would be about $150 per square foot.
“When you’re looking at taxpayer money, it’s kind of hard to argue this,” Nix said.
Though not everyone is pleased with purchase of the Liberty Mutual building. Gainesville officials think moving county offices out of Gainesville is a bad idea.
“Gainesville is the county seat and that’s where the government offices should remain,” Mayor Ruth Bruner said. “We just think it sends a bad message.”
Bruner also said she thinks it will be inconvenient for residents to drive out of the city as well as detrimental to the businesses on the square that are frequented by government employees.
“I hope they’re not being short sighted in moving out there,” Bruner said.