ELLICOTT CITY, MD-Howard County officials put $2.8 million in their coffer for their new government office complex with the sale of four surplus properties. Additional sales of several other surplus lots and buildings are expected to bring in about $8 million for the project.

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 acres brings in $300,000. The sale of two more surplus buildings accounts for an additional $1.7 million. Commenting on the transactions, county Public Works Director James M. Irvin says the property sales are “a critical part of our project to build a new office complex. This is one of the first major steps.” There are five more properties the county hopes to close deals on in the next few weeks. Irvin says officials are currently in the negotiating phase with a prospective buyer on a county-owned 60-acre parcel of land.

The new local government office compound will sit on a 25-acre plot just south of US Interstate 40. “[The construction costs] will be in the $50 million range,” Irvin notes. “We just finished the master plan and we’re trying to come up with the estimated costs.” The $8 million officials hope to make from the property sales will be used site for development. If all goes according to plan, the county will begin site work next summer and will start in on construction about a year or two after that. Money, of course, is an issue. Irvin concedes that the changing economy presents a challenge, and that they are uncertain how much funding will be available for the project from the county budget. “The county school construction needs are driving what we do with our budget over the next few years,” he explains. “It has an indirect impact.”

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