Frederick County Government Buys Property
Frederick County Government Buys Property
Frederick County has acquired the retail center known as Sunnyside Plaza at the intersection of Route 522 N. and Route 37.
According to Charles DeHaven, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, “Space at 107 N. Kent Street has become an issue. We knew it was just a matter of time before we would need to do something to alleviate the crowded situation and there is really no option to create more space. It’s exciting that we will have more office space in Frederick County.”
The center has 70,614 square feet and currently is home to 5 tenants. Tenants have been notified of the sale and have been advised that all leases will be honored. It is Frederick County’s intent to work with the existing tenants during this transition of ownership to make this process as least disruptive as possible for those tenants and their respective customer bases. Virginia Property Group will provide property management services and will serve as the point of contact for the current tenants. As we begin design and renovation of the existing vacant spaces to accommodate county departments, we will work with VPG, as property manager, to ensure the lines of communication remain open with the tenants.
“There is a real need for additional space for personnel currently in our building at 107 N. Kent Street. We’ve made every effort to maximize the use of existing space by putting up walls and making storage closets into offices, but we’ve reached capacity,” according to County Administrator Kris Tierney.
A space needs assessment will be conducted, and staff has been asked to consider their current space needs and needs into the future. An architect will be hired to assist in evaluating the space needs and how to best utilize the newly acquired square footage. Renovations will need to be done to take the facility from retail space to office space.
The property purchased for $2.1 million following an online auction through the Ten-X platform. The County assesses the center at $6,215,792 and currently receives $18,778.54 in real estate tax revenue. There are approximately 380 parking spaces.
Cost of renovation and relocation of some staff will be determined.
As reported in The Winchester Star, Frederick County recently completed the purchase of Sunnyside Plaza. This property presents a unique opportunity for Frederick County to address the space needs at our 107 N. Kent Street building in a cost-effective way as well as provide better accessibility to the citizens of Frederick County. The property at Sunnyside is within a 20-minute drive of approximately 90 percent of the population of Frederick County with excellent accessibility via Route 37, Route 522, and Fox Drive and enough parking for residents wishing to transact business with the County.
The Sunnyside property is currently assessed at $6.2 million dollars and we were able to acquire the property for $2.1 million. The County is in the process of procuring architectural and engineering services to complete a space allocation study as well as design the space to accommodate those departments that would be relocating. The cost to renovate the existing building should be far less than the cost to acquire raw land, install the necessary infrastructure, and construct a new building.
By way of background, this is not the first time Frederick County has taken steps to address space needs. In 1994, the County acquired its current 4-story building and moved various county departments out of the 9 Court Square complex, as well as out of a variety of buildings along the Loudoun Street mall. The four-story building contained approximately 32,000 square feet. In 1996, the County constructed an addition to this structure that was approximately 68,000 square feet. This addition enabled us to consolidate many of our departments into one complex with the Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Communications being housed next door in the basement of the Winchester-Frederick County Joint Judicial Center. At the time of this acquisition/construction, Frederick County employed approximately 370 full-time employees. In 2007, Frederick County constructed the Frederick County Public Safety Building located at 1080 Coverstone Drive. The Public Safety Building contains approximately 61,566 square feet and today houses the Sheriff’s Department, Fire and Rescue, and Emergency Communications. At the time of construction, Frederick County had 742 full-time employees. Today, Frederick County employees 860 full-time employees.
Since 2014-2015, Frederick County Government has recognized the need for additional office space as the County continues to grow. The County’s Capital Improvements Plan has identified a joint County Administration/Frederick County Public Schools Administration Building as a needed project. The purchase of Sunnyside, while not specifically addressing the overall need, is a conservative approach to address current and near-term space needs.
It is important to point out that Frederick County Government Offices, as a whole, will not be relocating. It is our intent to examine overall space needs and identify specific departments that are best suited to relocate to Sunnyside.
Regarding Frederick County Middle School and why the County chose not to utilize that property and building to address our office space needs, the property is located within the City of Winchester and is currently zoned LR (Low-Density Residential). The proposed use, government offices, is not a permitted use within that zoning district; therefore, the County would need to apply for and get approval of a rezoning from the City of Winchester.
Frederick County is not the first locality to acquire vacant retail space and convert it into office space. One need look no further than Warren County Government Offices and, further down the valley, Rockingham County. Both successfully took unused retail space and converted it into government facilities and offices.
We will keep the public informed as we move through this project to include renovations and relocation of certain offices to the Sunnyside location.