“Construction could start within six months, maybe sooner,” said St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon.
Last week the St. Clair County Health Authority passed a resolution conveying an 8.9-acre parcel to the St. Clair County Commission for the purpose of construction a new office building for the St. Clair County offices of the Alabama Department of Human Resources. The transfer of property was on the condition that the Pell City Council consented to the transfer of the property. The property is located next to the St. Clair County Health Department, west of U.S. 231.
Monday night, the Council approved a resolution agreeing to the transfer of the property to the County Commission so construction of the new DHR building could move forward.
The agreement is on the condition the city will have half-ownership in the old DHR building, which was severely damaged by fire last year.
Batemon said the new facility is modeled after the new DHR facility in Cullman.
“So we already have the building plans,” Batemon said.
He said DHR cannot own property, so the St. Clair County Commission will build the new facility. DHR will make lease payments, which will basically pay for the construction of the new facility.
In August 2009, the old DHR building was burned by an arsonist. DHR had to move out of the building because of the extensive fire damage.
Batemon said the 8.9-acre site for the new facility is in an ideal location. The property is adjacent to the St. Clair County Health Department.
“Many of the same clients who visit DHR will also visit the County Health Department,” Batemon said.
He said having all community service agencies on one campus makes it easier for residents. Other community service agencies could join DHR and the County Health Department.
“Our citizens won’t have to drive all over the place for those services,” he said.
According to an agreement between the St. Vincent’s Health System, the St. Clair County Healthcare Authority, the St. Clair County Commission and Pell City, the St. Clair County Commission and Pell City will own all the Healthcare Authority property in exchange for the County Commission and the Council subsidizing the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital during the first 20 years of operations. Pell City’s share is $1 million or about $50,000 a year for the next 20 years after the new hospital is in operation.
The 9-acre plot is part of the property which is owned by Pell City and the St. Clair County Commission, once the hospital agreement is finalized. The two entities will also own all the property east of U.S. 231 and along the north side of Dr. John Haynes Drive, including the old hospital property and the old DHR facility.
Batemon said the damaged part of DHR could be torn down and the old DHR building rented until the St. Clair County Commission and Pell City decides what to do with all the prime commercial property east of U.S. 231.