The abandoned Bank of America building in downtown Nevada City will no longer be vacant if all goes according to Nevada County’s plan to house the district attorney’s office there.
The county is set to enter escrow on purchasing the property if the Nevada City Council approves a resolution expressing support for the county’s imminent purchase at its Wednesday night meeting, said County Executive Officer Rick Haffey.
The district attorney’s current office is located across Union Street on the top level of commercial buildings, but employees occupy space there originally designed to be residential apartments, Haffey said.
“If they moved away, we would lose the reasoning for having the courthouse in Nevada City,” said Nevada City Manager David Brennan. “It just weakens our position as a city to retain the courthouse.”
The county opted for a five-year lease at the district attorney’s current office in 2008, which is set to expire in the early summer of this year, said Chief Information Officer Steven Monaghan, who has been working on the real estate deal for the past year. The county is also set to purchase the office space above Friar Tuck’s that currently houses the county’s probation department. The county currently leases the space.
Gary Tintle and Ken Baker own the former Bank of America building, Tintle said, who also has an ownership stake in the district attorney’s and the probation department’s current office space.
“If both transactions are made, the county will save more than $200,000 to the general fund annually,” Haffey said.
The purchases will not necessitate a down payment that would immediately impact the general fund, and the mortgage payments at both locations would be less than what the county pays to lease both properties, Haffey said.
“The purchases are not finalized,” Haffey said, adding the county would not move on the real estate deal without the support of Nevada City.
Along with needing support from the Nevada City Council, the transaction still hinges on approval of a conditional use permit by Nevada City’s planning commission at its Jan. 17 meeting and approval of the purchase by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.
An application for subdividing the upstairs portion of the probation department’s current location will also be forthcoming, Brennan noted.
“At this point, we can’t find anything that can prevent it that can’t be mitigated,” Brennan said.
The county board has been kept apprised of the ongoing negotiations during closed session meetings, but the final approval of the purchase agreement would take place in open session, Monaghan said.
“We are still working with the owners to negotiate terms and work on some background stuff,” Monaghan said.
The county has explored other options regarding housing the offices, including obtaining a building in Whispering Pines Business Park in Grass Valley, Haffey said.
“We’d prefer to see another bank or retail come in, but it’s been vacant for nearly a year, and there doesn’t seem to be an interest in it,” Brennan said. “We think it is important to take the opportunity to keep them in town as opposed to waiting for something else.”
The county currently houses its departments of Public Health and Behavioral Health in office space in the Grass Valley commercial area.
“Our preference is to remain in downtown Nevada City,” Monaghan said.