Proposed site, cost for county offices released

By Alex Bridges

Details released Tuesday about a proposed government complex for Frederick County put the center on a 10-acre site near the Winchester Regional Airport in at a cost of below $40 million.

Representatives of Frederick County Center LLC said Tuesday the proposed, 150,000-square-foot facility would be built between U.S. 522 and Interstate 81, in an area known as Russell 150.

The entity has proposed moving the county’s 200 employees from their offices on North Kent Street in downtown Winchester to a site outside the city. County officials have said the potential move is aimed at accommodating residents and customers. The entity also has proposed to buy and renovate the county’s current office space.

Bill Hardigg, a spokesman for Frederick County Center, said a figure of $80 million had been mentioned as the possible cost for such a project. Hardigg said Frederick County Center estimates the cost at less than half that amount. Hardigg added that the ultimate cost depends on exactly what Frederick County leaders decide they want in the building.

Frederick County Center also released an artist’s rendering of what the government office building could look like.

The idea of consolidating the school administrative offices with the county government space remains under consideration. Lawson noted that the entity has anticipated such an option in its designs.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard C. Shickle commented on the project.

“In Frederick County we’ve sought to keep taxes low for over 10 years and as we venture into this project we’ll be trying to mitigate as much as possible the impact to the taxpayer,” Shickle said by phone. “I believe if we’re lucky enough to combine this building with the school building and it all works out, we’ll actually save the taxpayer money in the long haul.”

Shickle said he isn’t paying much attention to the cost of the project this early in the process given that no closure has been reached. But Shickle did voice support for the proposed site.

“It fit the bill as far as central location, closeness to strategic travel arteries, convenient to the citizenry,” Shickle said. “It fit all of those criteria. In an area yet to be developed, perhaps it can be a catalyst for compatible uses.

“It’s going to be an exciting project for the community if it can all be worked out and we strike the proper balance between responsibility to the taxpayer, economic stimulus, strategic location,” Shickle said, adding that some crucial roads also need to be built. “It’ll have to pass muster and I’m hopeful that it will.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the Public Works Committee held a meeting on the proposal. Ty Lawson, an attorney representing Frederick County Center, gave a brief presentation at the beginning of the meeting. However, members went into a closed session to continue their discussion to comply with a confidentiality agreement between the county and the entity.

Frederick County Center filed an unsolicited proposal with the county offering to build a 150,000-square-foot government office complex. The entity filed the proposal through the Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act of 2002 under which firms can offer to build projects for a local government or school system but may keep the details confidential.

Even with the release of information Tuesday, many details remain confidential. The entity and county officials mutually agreed to release more information about the site and the architect’s rendering of the building since the county received no other competing proposals.

Lawson stated in a press release that the project would use local companies and supplies as well as create construction jobs. Shockey Companies has been identified as a contractor for the project.

Further details about the project will be announced before any decisions are made, Lawson stated.

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