Stark County commissioners on Tuesday reviewed two proposals for a 30-month office space and parking lease for the Children’s Services division of the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services. One proposal keeps the agency in its current location in the Renkert building; the other would move the 200 employees up the street.
Stark County commissioners are considering whether to move nearly 200 county Job and Family Services employees from the building where they’ve worked since 1991.
The three-member board on Tuesday reviewed two proposals for a 30-month office space and parking lease for the Children’s Services division of the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services. The lease also includes 41 parking spaces and two optional two-year contract extensions.
AK Properties, which owns the Renkert building at 306 Market Ave. N. where Children Services now is located, submitted the lowest bid at $977,883. Fourth & Market, a company that owns office space nearby at 401 Fourth St. NW, submitted a bid of $1.1 million.
Julie Barnes, executive director of Job and Family Services, recommended that commissioners choose AK Properties’ proposal based on price and ability to meet the agency’s needs. She noted that Fourth & Market’s proposal is based on 36,000 square feet of office space even though the agency requested at least 39,000 square feet. To add the additional space would increase the cost by $48,750.
Dan DeHoff, vice president of DeHoff Development, and attorney, Allen Schulman, both representing Fourth & Market, said Job and Family Services would not need the 39,000 square feet of space if employees were not scattered on five different floors as they are now in the Renkert building. They produced an architectural drawing that showed the employee offices and workstations in a layout that needs only 31,500 square feet of space.
DeHoff added that his proposed price is skewed by the agency’s estimated moving cost of $380,000, which he believes is too high.
Schulman also questioned the integrity of the 98-year-old Renkert building based on a structural condition report submitted by AK Properties as part of its bid and asked whether the aging building met the agency’s extensive technology needs, which could lead to future expenses.
“I don’t want to see any downtown building not occupied,” said Schulman, also the Democratic president of Canton City Council, “but the goal of a bid in the public sector is to save taxpayer money.”
Representatives for AK Properties defended the Renkert’s structural integrity and produced a letter from the firm that evaluated the building that said it faces no imminent danger but would need repairs in the future.
Commissioners decided to delay the vote at the request of Commissioner Richard Regula, a Republican, who asked for more time to review the structural reports of both buildings and the agency’s estimate for its moving expenses.
Commissioners are expected to revisit the lease on July 31.