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ASTORIA, OR-Clatsop County will be moving out of its leased space at the end of 2001 and into the old armory building at the east end of Downtown here at the mouth of the Columbia River. The county board of commissioners voted 4-0 at a special meeting late last week to purchase the 20,000-sf building from the Faith Fellowship Center of Astoria. The county will pay $600,000 to buy the facility, then about $2 million to add a second floor, a few more windows and finish out the space while also bringing it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The county hopes to have the facility ready for occupancy by the end of 2001, at which time it will vacate some 15,000 sf of leased office space at various locations around Astoria. The building will house the departments of assessment and taxation, community affairs, central services, planning and development, health and human services and the county manager’s office. Moving those departments to the armory will ultimately save the county about $100,000 a year in lease payments, Bud Kramer, interim county manager, tells GlobeSt.

The building also includes indoor parking space in the basement for 48 vehicles, as well as additional off-street parking. As an extra bonus, the county will be able to use the armory’s ammunitions storage room as a records vault. The county had budgeted $100,000 to build a new vault. Funds for the purchase and renovation will come from a special projects fund the county created for the acquisition or construction of new county office space.

The purchase has all the basic contingencies, such as an engineer’s inspection this week to confirm its readiness for the second floor and all the necessary building approvals to make it happen. The county will have to get a conditional use permit, and pass through both historical and design reviews. The facility was built in 1942 to house the local unit of the Oregon National Guard. “We considered the revitalization of the city and figured this would essentially work as eastern anchor for Downtown Astoria,” says Kramer.

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