Those who often drive down Fairburn Road frequently have witnessed the steady transformation of the former John Bleakley RV building into what will be a stately columned, brick-façade county government annex within the next few months.
Once completed, the building will house the Douglas County Tax and Tag offices on the first floor and the Appraisal and GIS departments on the second floor of the 22,000-square-foot building. The long-vacant Bleakley building was purchased by the county in August 2015 for $1.5 million.
Lichty Commercial Construction, Inc. of Atlanta was awarded a contract in March 2017 for the construction of the Douglas County Administration Annex for a total price not to exceed $3,414,056.00.
Carter Watkins and Associates Architects, who also designed the new Douglas County Animal Shelter, completed the design for the building renovation.
The 7.39-acre property includes a 38,760-square-foot back building, a 20,000-square-foot main building upon renovation and a 1,440-square-foot small building, according to James Worthington, director of development services and county engineer. The building is projected to be open in the spring of 2018.
“We’re on schedule and progressing as we should be,” Worthington said. “The next part is to begin roofing this week — depending on the weather.”
He described the roof as a “cool” white TPO membrane material that is durable, weather-resistant and has a 30-year warranty. He said the bright while material is much cooler than a black roof.
The interior framing on the first floors is nearing completion, so workers will be moving upwards to the second floor to begin framing there, Worthington said.
“The exterior framing is underway, so they will be drying in the windows within one to two months,” he said.
Property Management has already moved into a small building on the old Bleakley campus from the Old Courthouse to give more space to the Coroner's Office and Accountability Courts.
He said it will also help alleviate parking problems at the current courthouse.
“This will take out 50 courthouse employees,” said Worthington. “The majority of foot traffic at the courthouse is for the tax and tag offices, so it should help eliminate the parking problem.”
The fleet maintenance is almost ready for occupancy, according to Worthington, waiting on a switcher for the fiber optics cable, which should be installed within the next two weeks.
“Fleet is complete,” said Worthington. “The building will then be finished and usable and can begin moving. The intent is to set up one person over here and both shops will be open until the transition is complete.”
The current fleet maintenance shop is located on Chicago Avenue. The renovated, 38,000-square-foot back building will give a new home to the 40- to-50-year-old fleet maintenance building, which was designed to support county vehicle maintenance when the county was half the size it is today.
The main bay area will maintain the county's vehicles, including animal control trucks, ambulances and fire trucks. One section, paid through Rideshare grant funds, will maintain the program's commuter vans. Another section of the bay area is specially designed to handle the largest vehicles, such as fire engines.