Job and Family Services moving near I-75

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Allen County Department of Job and Family Services is looking to move into the current Lima Memorial Health System Heart and Vascular Institute building come 2020.

The county department has been shopping around for a new location since August when it began requesting bids in an effort to find a more efficient space for their programs.

Three bids were received, but in the end, the bid from Lima Memorial ended up fitting the needs of the department while also asking for the lowest rental price — $7.6 million over a 25-year period with the option to purchase the building for $1 when the lease runs out.

“We’re required by statute to go with the best bid,” ACJFS Director Joe Patton said. “It’s not always the cheapest, but this time it was.”

Other bids for a 25-year lease were submitted by partners Zeisler Morgan Properties and Roschman Enterprises offering a $22 million deal for the former K-Mart building on Harding Highway and HWH Properties, the owner of the department’s current location, offering $11.5 million for a lease renewal and eventual purchase of the building.

Choosing Lima Memorial’s lower bid would create $150,000 in annual savings, or $3.9 million over the life of agreement, when compared to the agency’s current rent. Patton said those savings could be used to improve public services and programs.

ACJFS rent is paid with state and federal funds independent of the county’s general fund.

Patton said outside of the lower bid price, the Heart and Vascular Institute’s location, 951 Commerce Parkway, has added benefits compared to ACJFS’s current building. The new location can be easily accessed by Interstate 75, has plenty of parking and allows for drop-offs at the entrance.

The current ACJFS building on Dixie Highway requires crossing a busy street before entering the front door — a concern for those who may be dealing with mobility problems.

Patton said the amount of space in the new building would also allow the department to spread out throughout the entirety of the first floor. If needed, offices could be expanded to upper stories.

“Public assistance and job services will be on the same floor allowing for better connectivity as we continue our self-sufficiency model of filling the region’s workforce gap,” Patton said in a press release.

As for building updates, ACJFS would require just a few changes to the building before the department could move in, Patton said. Examination rooms would need to be retrofitted for offices, and the signage outside would need to be changed to reflect the new occupiers.

Allen County Commissioners heard from Patton Thursday morning to learn about the bids received. Commissioner Jay Begg said the agreement will be vetted prior to its consideration scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, at which time the agreement is expected to pass.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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