An 8,080-sf historic firehouse and its parking lot bring in$905,000 for the county, while the sell of a building on 1.16 acresbrings in $300,000. The sale of two more surplus buildings accountsfor an additional $1.7 million. Commenting on the transactions,county Public Works Director James M. Irvin says the property salesare "a critical part of our project to build a new office complex.This is one of the first major steps." There are five moreproperties the county hopes to close deals on in the next fewweeks. Irvin says officials are currently in the negotiating phasewith a prospective buyer on a county-owned 60-acre parcel ofland.

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The new local government office compound will sit on a 25-acreplot just south of US Interstate 40. "[The construction costs] willbe in the $50 million range," Irvin notes. "We just finished themaster plan and we're trying to come up with the estimated costs."The $8 million officials hope to make from the property sales willbe used site for development. If all goes according to plan, thecounty will begin site work next summer and will start in onconstruction about a year or two after that. Money, of course, isan issue. Irvin concedes that the changing economy presents achallenge, and that they are uncertain how much funding will beavailable for the project from the county budget. "The countyschool construction needs are driving what we do with our budgetover the next few years," he explains. "It has an indirectimpact."

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