The Hall County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved a bid for architectural and other work that will be needed to transform for the Liberty Mutual building into the county's new administrative headquarters.
Fifteen county departments will move into the Liberty Mutual office building on Browns Bridge Road in November 2011.
The building, purchased in August for $6.1 million, has about 97,000 square feet of real office space, Assistant Hall County Administrator Phil Sutton said.
"The architect will first determine which departments need to be near each other," Sutton said. "Who needs to be near the door because they have high public access? Which departments need to be near each other because they have common functions?"
Once the departments are mapped out inside the building, the architect will decide how much space each needs.
"Locating where they go, how much space they need and then drawing up the plans on putting up walls, cubicles, areas where there is public access - the architect will outline all of that," Sutton said.
The county is looking forward to having the majority of its offices located under one roof.
"We think that's one of the big benefits to this building is we can bring together people who were in several buildings into one place and make it easier for people who have to come in," Sutton said.
Hall County Public Information Officer Nikki Young said the county believes the new building will be more convenient for residents, too.
"One thing we're wanting to do is have a nice reception area when people come in," Young said. "A lot of people don't know what department to call. It would be nice to have a receptionist there to kind of guide people through the county government system."
Currently, the Board of Commissioners holds its work sessions at the Courthouse Annex and rents a larger space at the Georgia Mountain Center for its voting meetings.
"One thing they're trying to decide right now is whether to have the commission meetings out there," Young said.
"It would take a bit of work to create a space for that to happen. That would save us a little bit of money if we could have the commission meetings out there."
Sutton said after all the spacial planning, the county will set up a new phone and computer system in the building.
"One of the big advantages to this building is we can go to a modern telephone and network system combined," Sutton said.
The combined system is expected to be more efficient and save costs.
Once the plans for the Liberty Mutual building are worked out, there will still be more work to do.
Some of the other county offices that are not going to be in the Liberty Mutual building may relocate from leased space or crowded space into other county-owned buildings.
"It'll be a cascading waterfall of moves," Sutton said.
"The courts have a desire to move some of their operations to the courthouse annex. We've talked to the health department about moving to the Prior Street building where the Planning Department is."
The Liberty Mutual building was purchased with funds from 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.
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.