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Posted December 26, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Front Royal town office move slated next month

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- Moving day should come next month for dozens of Front Royal town staff members.

Plans call for most of the Front Royal departments to relocate from Town Hall less than 500 feet away to the former BB&T bank building at 104 E. Main St.

Town Manager Steven Burke said last week he anticipates departments should move into their new spaces next month.

Contractors continued to install communications system wiring and related equipment, along with new carpeting throughout the building.

The new administration building will house the town manager and attorney, the clerk of town council, finance, risk management, purchasing, information technology, planning and zoning, human resources and the council chambers. Finance operates across the street out of a building that the town shares with Comcast. The town will seek to lease the space once the department moves, according to Burke.

Cindy Hartman, purchasing agent for Front Royal, noted, "You figure we're taking everybody over in Town Hall plus everybody that's in the finance department and putting them both in this building."

Information technology already moved into its new office space ahead of other departments. Todd Jones, information technology manager, said they have servers and phone systems that they are putting in.

"It was just too cumbersome to do from over in Town Hall," he said. "We kept running back and forth so we were like 'let's just go.'"

Even though the renovations include upgrades and the creation of new spaces for various departments, town customers who also frequented the bank may find some areas familiar. Customers will make payments to the town in the area of the former bank lobby and teller windows, according to Hartman. The department also plans to take advantage of the bank's drive-through window and make it available to customers.

Hartman noted that the town retained much of the bank's furniture for their offices. In other efforts to save money, staff completed some of the renovations in-house, Hartman said.

The town departments plan to use two of the bank's three vaults for storage space, according to Hartman. She said she didn't know whether the town plans to use the bank's original vault in the building's basement.

Efforts to renovate the building hit a snag several months ago when a severe storm sent rain through a hole in part of the roof under repair. The water caused nearly $60,000 in damage to parts of the inside of the building. Insurance is expected to cover most if not the entire cost, according to Burke.

The building became available in the fall of 2011 when BB&T announced it planned to relocate the branch office to another site. The move left a vacancy downtown, but the town quickly took the opportunity to acquire the property to meet office space needs. The town borrowed $1.5 million from its Department of Energy Services to fund the project. The amount included approximately $1.1 million needed to buy the property and $388,140 for the renovations.

The project included the construction of an elevator that cost more than $97,000. The town did not need to install the elevator to meet rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the building had been grandfathered in under the older guidelines. Officials decided to install an elevator in the building as a courtesy.

Other high-dollar renovation costs include network improvements at more than $84,000, roof work at $60,000 and flooring, walls and painting at $53,000. The project also included $26,000 to improve the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

A recently updated list of project costs showed estimates for remaining work that included installation of ADA-compliant doors, security systems and locks, and a finance department enclosure. The cost to move the offices from their current location to the new building is estimated at $13,000.

Town administration asked for an additional $25,000 to help complete the project.

Asked what Front Royal would do with Town Hall once offices move, Burke stated the property would be included in a list of possible locations for the police department, which has been looking for larger space.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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