Orange County supervisors on Tuesday authorized a new $400 million headquarters for the county government, including a public meeting room for the Board of Supervisors and new offices for the supervisors and their staff.
The new offices relocate the county Hall of Administration, and involve demolishing three large buildings in the county Civic Center that house other county offices: those of the public defender, treasurer-tax collector, clerk-recorder, assessor, and auditor-controller.
The new building will increase the county supervisors’ office space by at least 60 percent, to 32,000 square feet.
In addition to the supervisors’ offices and public meeting room, the new six-story building will house the County Executive Office and those of County Counsel, human resources, OC Community Resources, and Health Care Agency, according to county officials.
“We are remaking the face of the County of Orange, of the county government,” said Andrew Do, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, before supervisors approved the building Tuesday.
The new building will feature open floor plans and much more natural light than the county’s current headquarters, said Supervisor Shawn Nelson. “This is a masterful plan,” he said of the overall plan to overhaul the county Civic Center with new buildings.
Construction on the new 254,000 square-foot structure, known as “Building 14,” is scheduled to start in spring 2020, with an August 2022 completion date.
Supervisors didn’t say where the existing offices in the buildings to be demolished as part of the new project – and the hundreds of employees who work there – will be relocated.
The five agencies that currently occupy the offices slated to be demolished are not included in the list of county agencies that will occupy the new building. Among the offices for which no replacement is listed are those of lawyers who represent defendants who can’t afford their own attorney, public terminals for viewing property records, and desks for obtaining birth and death certificates.
Two of the agencies – the public defender and assessor’s offices – will move into leased office space that “is being identified currently,” county spokeswoman Molly Nichelson said in response to questions from Voice of OC.
The other three offices – clerk-recorder, treasurer-tax collector and auditor-controller – will be in the new Building 16, which is under construction with a similar design and is scheduled to open in early 2020.
The supervisors did not show any images Tuesday of what the new building they were approving will look like. County officials later sent renderings in response to a request from Voice of OC. [Click here to view the renderings.]
Supervisors said there’s a cost to continue using the existing county headquarters, which is 40 years old. They didn’t provide a clear breakdown of how much it would cost in comparison with the new building or alternate designs for new buildings.
“There is a high cost to doing nothing,” Do said, without citing any numbers.
“When you talk about the cost savings, they are truly tremendous,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.
“Just the cost savings in Building 14 alone, through the efficiency of the design and the work stations, the lighting and the [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning]…the cost savings [over 30 years] is about $160 million. That’s the cost of the building, and we’re gonna get those in savings over the next 30 years in just those areas alone.”
The new building will cost $393 million, according to the county staff report. It includes $198 million for the building and another $195 million to pay off the bonds over a 30-year period.
Griffin Structures Inc. is the master planner for the overall Civic Center overhaul and construction contractor for all of the new buildings. Its current work stems from Board of Supervisors votes in 2012 and 2013 to select the firm.
The new building will be next to the new Building 16, which has been under construction for a year and is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2020.
Both buildings will be just east of Ross Street, with Building 14 just south of Civic Center Dr. and Building 16 just north of Santa Ana Blvd.
The names are in keeping with the naming system of the existing Civic Center buildings, many of which date back to the 1970s.
“I hate the name Building 16, and whatever we call this other one,” Nelson said, referring to the building currently under construction and Building 14, which he and the other supervisors approved Tuesday.
“We’ve got to come up with some other name,” Nelson said. He didn’t suggest a new name or a process or timeline for choosing one.