The Stillwater building will be the new location for several Yellowstone County offices currently housed on the fourth floor of the courthouse, which is located across the street.
On Tuesday, the county commission unanimously adopted with no discussion the recommendation of a panel that reviewed six different proposals offering downtown office space. Commissioners reviewed the options at its Monday discussion meeting.
Stillwater’s proposal for a five-year lease with a five-year lease extension option ranked at the top of the list and was the panel’s unanimous recommendation.
Yellowstone County is looking to relocate its commissioner, finance, clerk and recorder, and auditor offices off site so it can remodel the fourth floor into courtrooms and offices for two new district court judges authorized by the 2017 Legislature.
Chief Deputy County Attorney Dan Schwarz told commissioners on Tuesday that the current fourth-floor offices have to be moved out by April 1, 2018, so remodeling can occur. The new judges will take office in January 2019.
Calling the schedule “ungodly tight,” Schwarz said he expected the commission to have a lease agreement for the Stillwater building by its Nov. 21 board meeting.
The Stillwater building, at 316 N. 26th St., is the large five-story former federal courthouse. WC Commercial LLC bought the building, abated all of its asbestos, and is seeking tenants. EEC of Billings is the developer.
Quentin Eggert, president of EEC, said Tuesday the company thinks the county made the right decision. The county will be “a good anchor tenant” and will be the first tenant to be under contract — although EEC is talking with other possible tenants, he said.
The parking garage EEC is planning to build on the east side of the building is making “a big difference” with potential clients, Eggert said.
Schwarz said reasons for going with Stillwater’s third floor were that it was the most convenient for the public, with ample parking and a half-block walk, its potential and flexibility for expansion and its built to suit offer. The cost will be about $15 per square foot, which includes the design to build.
The county sought proposals for 14,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet of space.
Eggert said about half of the third floor, about 14,000 square feet, will be leased to the county. The floor has about 30,950 square feet of net space.
Schwarz also said three of the six proposals were rejected because of expense or being unsuited to the needs. The three remaining proposals were “very close,” he said.
“It was a hard decision, but that is what we get paid for,” he said.
Along with Schwarz, Kevan Bryan, finance director, and Tim Miller, public works director, were on the review panel.
The top three proposals were Stillwater, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo Bank. The three rejected were renovation of the county’s “round building,” the Miller Building and the Old Masonic Lodge.