Frederick committee to study offices move

Posted: July 11, 2013

The Winchester Star

Frederick County is considering an offer to relocate its North Kent Street offices to a new building at an undisclosed county location for an unknown cost. The LLC making the offer would provide land for the new county building, design work and financing, and would purchase the downtown building. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 Wednesday to forward the proposal for a new government office building to the locality’s Public Works Committee for evaluation.

In mid-April, the county received an unsolicited proposal from Frederick County Center LLC to provide financing for the design and construction of a new building. The county’s current facility — at 107 N. Kent St. in Winchester — is 100,000 square feet, while the LLC is proposing a 150,000-square-foot building.

According to the proposal, the LLC also would provide land in the county for the project, and would purchase the existing building in the city.

The deadline for private entities to submit competing proposals was 2 p.m. June 25. The county received no other proposals.

Board Vice-Chairman and Stonewall Supervisor Charles DeHaven Jr. said during the meeting that the Public Works Committee is a good board to evaluate the proposal.

“We have expertise and experience at that committee level that we don’t have anyplace else,” DeHaven said.

Specific details of the proposal — including where the land being offered is located, how much the LLC is proposing to buy the existing building for and any future plans for the existing building — were considered proprietary while the county accepted competing proposals.

However, the LLC can choose to keep those details proprietary until the county gets to the point where a public hearing is required to solicit opinions for any potential move, according to both County Administrator John R. Riley Jr. and County Attorney Roderick B. Williams.

If certain parts of the proposal remain proprietary until a public hearing, the Public Works Committee would have to evaluate at least parts of the proposal in a closed session, according to county officials.

The county came close to moving its offices out of Winchester in the mid-1990s before an agreement with the city kept them downtown and allowed for the expanded 100,000-square-foot facility.

Frederick County still owes $1.3 million on its current administration building. It is scheduled to make a $705,000 payment in December and pay off the remaining balance in December 2014, according to information previously provided by Frederick County Finance Director Cheryl Shiffler.

More than 200 county employees work out of the current office.

Riley said after the meeting that it’s likely a special Public Works Committee meeting will be called to evaluate the proposal but that no date has been set.

Attending the meeting in the Frederick County Administration Building were Chairman Richard Shickle, Vice-Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. and members Gary Lofton, Gene Fisher, Christopher Collins and Robert Hess.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com