Relocation of government workers beginning
The relocation of hundreds of government employees out of decaying office space is beginning, with the entire move expected to be completed by mid-fall.
Tony Lindauer, Jefferson property valuation administrator, said all of his 60 employees will be moved by mid-June from three floors in the aging Jefferson Fiscal Court Building at Court Place and Sixth Street into new space in the privately owned Glassworks building at Market and Ninth streets.
The lower portion of the 10-story Fiscal Court Building, owned by metro government, was built around 1905, with the upper four floors added in the late 1930s as a Works Progress Administration project.
\”The building is in a very bad state of decline. Its economic life is gone. My people were getting ill, from the mold and the plaster coming off the walls. The space was too expensive to repair,\” Lindauer said this week.
Cathy Duncan, the metro director of fleet and facilities, said the Fiscal Court Building has steam heat that makes the temperature hard to control.
Duncan and Chris Poynter, Mayor Greg Fischer\’s spokesman, said there are no current plans to move any other offices out of the Fiscal Court Building. Tenants there include operations of the county sheriff, the county attorney and the county clerk.
Col. Carl Yates, spokesman for Sheriff John Aubrey, said he knows of no plan to relocate any of the sheriff\’s offices. But he said \”we desperately need more space. We are literally on top of each other.\”
And, despite Duncan\’s contention that no one\’s health had been harmed, Yates added, \”we have had employees complain about mold and allergies and that kind of thing.\”
Lindauer said he has already begun to move computers and other equipment to Glassworks, where all of the PVA\’s staff will be located on the fourth floor. He said the consolidated, one-level layout will be significantly more efficient from a work standpoint than his Fiscal Court Building operation spread over three levels.
Numerous government offices located in the old Kentucky Baptist Hospital complex at 810 Barret Ave., now the Urban Government Center, are also to be relocated sometime this fall. Those offices will be moved to the Edison Center, 1228 S. Seventh St., Duncan said. It is a renovated former LG&E warehouse.
Duncan said the move of the government offices from the Fiscal Court Building and 810 Barret is planned, despite a pending lawsuit recently filed by the owners of the old Bank of Louisville Building near Broadway and Fifth Street. That suit challenged the process by which the city awarded the contract to provide the replacement office space to City Properties Group. It owns both the Edison Center and Glassworks.
Another lawsuit was filed in 2011 on behalf of the workers at the Urban Government Center. It alleged that conditions, mainly mold, at the Barret Avenue site was harmful to workers\’ health.
Bill Patteson, spokesman for County Attorney Mike O\’Connell, said Jefferson Circuit Court declined to make the suit a class-action on behalf of all the government employees at the Urban Government Center. That denial has been appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Patteson said no judicial ruling has been rendered on the merits of the employees\’ allegations made in the lawsuit.
Duncan said , because of high maintenance costs for the existing space at Barret Avenue and in the Fiscal Court Building — even though it was provided at no cost to the city — the city expects the cost of renting replacement space in privately owned quarters will be a wash.
Lee Weyland, a spokesman for City Properties Group, emphasized that Glassworks is not closing — even though a major tenant, Architectural Glass Art, has closed and another major tenant, QK4, an engineering firm, has moved to Chestnut Street.
Weyland said that the city, on behalf of the PVA, at Glassworks is leasing about 13,000 square feet of space, for roughly $13,500 a month. The initial lease is for 10 years.
Departments that will be moved from the old Baptist Hospital to the Edison Center are the Air Pollution Control District, Community Services, Community Action Partnership, the metro police Narcotics Division and the Jefferson County coroner. Also headed for the Edison building is the Jefferson County Election Center and the election staff of County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw. They employ a total of about 300 workers.
The mayor\’s office said the lease arrangement for the Edison Center space will be $812,500 annually.
Fischer spokesman Poynter said the old Kentucky Baptist hospital is \”prime real estate,\” but that the city does not have any certain plan for disposing of the property.
Rather than spend the estimated $17 million to $20 million necessary to repair the facility, the city decided to lease replacement space.
Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089. Follow him on Twitter at @sheldonshafer.