SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A prime piece of real estate in the middle of downtown Saratoga Springs may be going on the market in the next couple of months.
Saratoga County is laying out plans to sell its long-time office building located at 31 Woodlawn Ave., once its Public Health Department moves into its new space, a process which should be complete in the next few weeks.
The half-acre site located between Woodlawn Avenue and Railroad Place -- facing a movie theater complex and supermarket -- holds the value, more than the two-story brick building, which the county has used for offices since the 1970s. County officials assume a private buyer would demolish the structure to make way for new construction.
“It has an appraised value that is pretty significant," said Supervisor Matthew Veitch, R-Saratoga Springs, chairman of the county's Buildings and Grounds Committee. "It is prime property, right in the middle of downtown Saratoga Springs.”
The building, which over the years has housed a number of different county offices, will be vacant once the new $25 million county Public Safety Building in Milton is complete. The building received its temporary certificate of occupany on Tuesday, which allows employees to start moving in, county Public Works Commissioner Keith Manz said.
The Probation Department will move in next week, Manz said, followed by the Office of Emergency Services the week after. The Public Health Department will move sometime after that, once the state Department of Health approves its move.
While the sheriff's communications center will also be in the new building, it isn't expected to move until fall, due to the complexity of installing new electronics and moving the 911 dispatching center.
Several years ago, city officials several years ago approached the county about taking owership of the building, however, Veitch said the city would have to pay a significant amount. "If the city does want the building, they are going to have to pay the county for it," Veitch said at a committee meeting Tuesday in Ballston Spa.
"I've been approached by private developers who are interested," he said.
The committee voted to get a new appraisal on the property before trying to sell it. The last appraisal, in 2017, was for about $2 million.
"Let’s just see what it’s worth, and that gives us a starting point," said committee member Alan Grattidge, R-Charlton. "It’s an asset of the entire county, all the taxpayers.”
The committee also voted to let the city use the building's parking lot for city employee parking, once the building is vacant. Having that activity will also help address concerns about the risk of vandalism once the building is vacant, committee members said.
“That would also give us activity at that location," Veitch said. "That lot will have day-long activity, so it doesn’t just look like a vacant building sitting there.”
The request came as city employees start to move back into City Hall on Broadway, which has been undergoing $10 million in repairs since a lightning strike caused a fire and flooding in August 2018. Their return, however, is coming at a time when construction of the new Saratoga Springs City Center parking structure is temporarily restricting the availability of nearby parking.
"We do have a parking crunch right now, and the employees are very stressed about it," said city Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, who appeared before the committee.
The parking arrangement will require approval from the county Board of Supervisors at its July 21 meeting.