ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany Utilities has occupied the 207 Pine Ave. building since the late 70s, but utility leaders say it's time to move on.
Stephen Collier, Assistant City Manager of Utilities, told WALB News 10 that the current building is no longer in shape to do business.
"We've been negotiating with your larger commercial customers and when we want to bring them in to showcase our different services and sell to the industry, you want to bring them into a successful looking organization," Collier said.
The assistant city manager says the building consists of stained carpet, worn out furniture, and damaged ceilings due to outside rain and the building's AC unit.
In need of changes, the utility company is moving into the old SB&T Bank building at 401 Pine Ave.
Collier said the new location will provide the company with a consolidated call center to enhance customer service, office space for its various departments, and a new drive-thru for customers needing to pay their bills.
WALB News 10's Zach Logan asked Collier about the reasoning behind the move.
According to Collier, the current Albany Utilities building consists of six floors with around 57,000 sq. ft. The utility company occupies three of the floors, leaving three floors unused.
Collier said renovating the entire building would have cost taxpayers around $6 million. And if the city only renovated the first four floors, it would have cost around $3.5 million and would have left half the building untouched.
"Putting that kind of money into this building and then not touching the roof on top would have certainly have been spending taxpayers' money poorly," Collier said.
The move to 401 Pine Ave. is expected to cost around $3.3 million. In that budget, Albany Utilities plans to spend around $400,000 on new furniture, lighting fixtures, and equipment.
"It's not prudent to take the aged equipment we have in here into the new facility. On top of that, the new facility is being designed by a new business model and some of these furnishings wouldn't fit," Collier said.
Albany's LRA Constructors Inc. is in charge of the renovations at 401 Pine Ave. According to Collier, LRA's estimated cost was lower than the other two bids.
Advent Business Interiors of Leesburg is working on the furniture and fixtures.
Albany Utilities hopes to move into the new building by the end of the summer.
After the utility company moves out of 207 Pine Ave., city leaders expect to hear from developers who would like to use the property as residential space.
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