County supervisors on Tuesday approved plans to move the county Mental Health Department to an empty car dealership building on South Broadway in Saratoga Springs.
The former Topper Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealership at 135 S. Broadway will be renovated from an open floor plan into office space. The move will probably take place next summer, said Supervisor Richard Rowland, R-Greenfield, chairman of the county Buildings and Grounds Committee.
“It’s a great fit and a great re-use for an old building,” he said after the unanimous approval at a board meeting in Ballston Spa.
The Mental Health Department is being forced to move by its current landlord, Saratoga Hospital, which has other plans for the building on hospital property that Mental Health now rents.
The hospital has asked the county to vacate by May 31, 2013, though an extension of a month or two is possible.
The county also plans to move its alcohol and substance abuse treatment program, located in another building at the hospital, to the new site. Eventually, it will move its day treatment program from Milton to the new building as well, Rowland said.
The county will sign a five-year lease for the Topper building at a base annual rent of $28,151 per month, with additional options for another 10 years. Overall, he said, the county will be saving money.
The Topper building is currently owned by businessman Frank Parillo, who bought it earlier this year.
“It’s going to be retrofitted,” Rowland said. “I think his intention is to dress up the front of the building a bit.”
The building sits on a shabby-looking section of South Broadway, between the empty Saratoga Diner and the vacant Tradewinds restaurant building. The exterior renovations will require city Planning Board approval.
The county Mental Health Department provides outpatient mental health treatment and also operates an outpatient alcoholism and substance abuse treatment program. Those would be moved to the new site, and Friendship House — a day treatment program now located in Milton — may also be moved to the new site in the future.
The department, with about 55 employees and a budget of $10 million, has an average caseload of 1,700 to 2,000 people at any given time.
County Mental Health Director Hans Lehr said last week he considered the Topper building the best of the three sites under consideration because it keeps the mental health programs in the Saratoga Springs area and is along a bus line.