County reviewing new options for elections office


Published: Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:14 p.m.

As the search for a new home for the Supervisor of Elections Office continues, Alachua County has a mix of familiar suggestions and new possibilities to consider.

The county recently requested proposals for properties in Gainesville that could be candidates for the new office and received five responses, a couple of which it had gotten during a previous round of submissions it considered earlier this year.

The county received a new proposal from Nalbandian Enterprises for a three-story building on 515 N. Main St., Purchasing Manager Larry Sapp said.

Bosshardt Realty Services also submitted a proposal for space previously occupied by Big Lots in the Northside Shopping Center at 2340 N. Main St., as well as the adjacent Ashley Furniture building.

It had submitted this site for consideration during the county’s last round of proposals, and the shopping center was selected as the top contender. However, commissioners eventually asked staff to do another search because they felt the lease price was too high.

Saul Silber Properties, through an entity known as The Old Rhodes Building LLC, again proposed the county use the former Sticks ‘N’ Stuff furniture store on the corner of Northwest 13th Street and Northwest 23rd Avenue.

Saul Silber Properties, through two separate entities, also suggested the Supervisor of Elections Office expand its current presence in the Star Garage downtown throughout the building, which Sapp said would total around 27,000 square feet, and offered the old Doc’s Office Supply building at 12 S. Main St. if additional room is needed.

Sapp said the county is looking for around 40,000 square feet of space to lease. The office is now split between three locations, including the Star Garage downtown.

“At this point, we’ll look at all of them,” Sapp said of the proposals. He hopes to begin negotiations with one or multiple vendors relatively soon and bring the County Commission an update on the search process in January or February.

Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter said her office needs to be moved by the spring of 2015 in order to give her staff enough time to prepare for the 2016 presidential election.

Carpenter recently toured the newly proposed sites with staff from the county as well as Vertical Integration, which works as a broker for the state and has been hired by the county to manage this search process.

“I’m excited that we’re on track and on schedule,” she said.

To make its spring 2015 move-in deadline, the county needs to stay on schedule every step of the way, according to Carpenter.

She would like to consolidate her office’s operation into one location and is looking for a place that is accessible via public transportation and has a loading dock, among other things. She and her staff would also prefer a one-story building, although she said she’d be looking at all the options with an open mind.

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