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Armsdale Building to close June 30 to save money

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Exterior of Armsdale Building

The county-owned Armsdale Building will be shutting down later this year, county officials announced on Thursday.

“We as a board sat down and looked at how to cut our costs and we looked at Armsdale and it would take a major capital investment (to keep it open),” said Commissioner Rich Fink at the county's public meeting.

“We're not looking to be landlords anymore,” he said.

The Armsdale Building will cease operation for its tenants as of June 30, the commissioners said.

The old building on the county's Armsdale Complex property along Route 85 in Rayburn is home to the county's Department of Economic Development and the coroner's office.

In addition, the county leases office space to the ARC of Armstrong County, Armstrong Conservation District, Farm Services Agency, Armstrong-Indiana Behavioral and Developmental Health Program, Penn State Extension, Value Behavioral Health of PA and the American Cancer Society.

The Armsdale Building has about 800 square feet of unoccupied space.

A new Emergency Operations Center building adjacent to the Armsdale Building will operate on the property. The recycling center operates on the property as well.

County officials advised the tenants in December of the decision, telling them that a study done by architects showed it was not cost-effective to make the needed renovations to the building for it to remain open in safe condition.

The cost to operate the building exceeded the county's resources, it was also determined.

According to the county‘s financial adviser, Carly Cowan, the county has been losing an average of about $100,000 per year from the operation of the Armsdale building over the past five years.

It would take at least $500,000 to do the minimum repairs necessary to bring the building up to code (including work on the roof, elevator and masonry restoration) and would cost between $500,000 to $1 million to bring the building up to a marketable condition, she said.

“The county cannot afford to foot such a bill nor would it be a sound financial decision; neither could the tenants absorb these costs in the form of higher rent payments,” said Cowan. “It was a tough decision to make but we're dedicated to help the tenants in their relocation efforts in any way possible.”

The commissioners said the tenants are looking individually to move to new office space.

The county owns a multi-tenant building at its Northpointe industrial park in South Buffalo and space is available once the 911 center moves from the basement floor of the courthouse annex building to the new EOC building in Rayburn sometime early this year.

County officials had asked Rayburn supervisors and the Progressive Workshop if they were interested in acquiring the building but both concluded they were not in a position to do so.

Belmont Arena rights

The commissioners yesterday announced that they are selling the naming rights to the county-owned Belmont recreational arena that houses the ice skating and ice hockey rink in East Franklin.

“It's another way we're looking to cut expenses and generate revenues,” said Fink.

Commissioner Chairman Dave Battaglia said the timing was right for the county to take advantage of selling the naming rights.

“With all the renovations, it will be a state-of-the-art center,” said Bataglia. “It's great PR (for a business).”

“We're putting the word out. I'm confident we'll get some interest. Six figures.”

In other county business, the commissioners:

• Approved an architectural services contract for the courthouse cupola renovation with RSSC of Wexford.

Carmen Johnson, the county's assistant director of Planning and Development, said $22,000 is budgeted for the architectural work and the county has a $12,000 grant for it from the Pennsylvania History and Museum Commission.

• Approved an elevator upgrades agreement for the Armstrong County Health Center in Kittanning with Eastern Elevator Service and Sales for $22,130.

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

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