Many Summit County government offices will make Firestone Park their new home this month when they relocate to the former Bridgestone/Firestone campus in Akron. Beginning Wednesday, February 17th, and continuing through Monday, February 29th, eight Summit County departments will be relocating their offices to a recently renovated facility at 1180 South Main Street, Akron, Ohio 44301. The World War I-era building was once part of the Firestone tire and rubber manufacturing campus and most recently supported the Bridgestone Technical Center that moved further south in Firestone Park a few years ago.

Starting Wednesday, February 17th, clients visiting Summit County's Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS) will no longer have to travel between multiple County office buildings to access programs and services. Additionally, for the first time in decades, free public parking will be available adjacent to the building that serves DJFS clients. The four office buildings that currently house DJFS offer no public parking to clients, and the area where the buildings are located in the northern end of downtown Akron is often congested with traffic from clients trying to find street parking and navigate between the buildings.

Clients and other members of the public should note that DJFS's current offices and call center will close to the public at noon on Friday, February 12th, to prepare for the move, and remain closed Monday, February 15th, for Presidents Day and Tuesday, February 16th, to finish the move. During that time, anyone in need of emergency services should report to the OhioMeansJobs–Summit County Center at 1040 East Tallmadge Avenue, Akron, Ohio 44310. DJFS will reopen at the 1180 South Main Street location at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 17th, and their normal office hours will remain Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The following week, on Monday, February 22nd, the Summit County Land Bank, Summit County Department of Human Resources, and Summit Soil & Water will move to the 1180 South Main Street location in Akron. On Monday, February 29th, the County's Department of Sanitary Sewer Services (formerly the Department of Environmental Services), Board of Revision, Department of Administrative Services and Records Center and Archives will complete their relocation. Each of these departments and agencies will close to the public at noon on the prior Friday and be open at 7:30 a.m. on the dates listed above. The public hours for each of these departments and agencies will remain Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

"Moving these offices from multiple locations to one building provides our residents with a more convenient and streamlined operation," said County Executive Russ Pry. "For years, those in need in Summit County have had to navigate multiple buildings after having no place to park. Those men and women come to DJFS during difficult times in their lives, and the prior situation presented yet another set of obstacles and frustrations."

The new building at 1180 South Main Street is easily accessible by public transportation and has plenty of convenient parking, with over 500 free parking spaces immediately in front of the new facility. Additionally, METRO RTA extended additional service to the building through route #21 South Main. For a full bus schedule of times please visit www.akronmetro.org.

As important as the relocation is for improving services to the residents of Summit County, "consolidation of these offices also saves tax dollars and creates a more efficient work environment," said Pry. The consolidation of these offices into a single location will provide Summit County long term facility savings of over $10 million over the next 20 years, as well as savings from operational efficiencies that could not previously be tapped into when operating in so many different buildings.

"Since becoming County Executive in 2007, my office has focused on streamlining and improving Summit County government by asking two things: Does it save the County money? And, does it improve services for Summit County residents?" said Pry. "For the relocation of these multiple offices to 1180 South Main Street, the resounding answer is 'Yes' to both questions."

All told, the project represents an investment of approximately $24 million in the Firestone Park neighborhood of Akron. 160,000 square feet of the triangle-shaped building has been renovated over the last year by Amerimar Realty of Philadelphia, which has holdings throughout the United States. The County will lease most of the building from an Amerimar subsidiary for the next 20 years, which allows the County to realize the benefits of a new consolidated facility without having to acquire and own additional property. Additionally, Amerimar was able to obtain historical tax credits in order to provide the County favorable lease costs. The fourth floor of the building has not been fully renovated and is available for lease.

In addition to Amerimar, the development team included local general contractor Welty Building Company, architects Sol Harris Day and several Summit County and Northeast Ohio contractors. "It is always a pleasure working with such strong local companies, and the County always enjoys partnering with Welty, as we also did with the Goodyear Headquarters Project," said Pry. "An additional bonus of this project is that we were able to keep many Summit County men and women in the construction trades employed as we continue to recover from the recession."

Summit County Fiscal Officer, Kristen Scalise, who oversees the Board of Revision and serves as Chair of the Land Bank, also praised the consolidation and relocation of offices. "This move not only improves accessibility to valuable county services for the citizens of Summit County, but it also returns this historic building to productive use and helps increase neighborhood property values," said Fiscal Officer Scalise. "It is a positive step for preserving the history and character of the Firestone Park neighborhood."

After the County moves in all of its employees and operations, it intends to host a ribbon cutting as well as tours for interested community organizations. Those organizations interested in touring the facility should contact the County at 330-643-2659.

Four of the County buildings that are being vacated will find new tenants and be placed back on the tax duplicate generating new tax dollars for our cities and school districts. Parties interested in leasing or purchasing any of those buildings should contact the County at 330-643-2075.

Directions, maps, office hours and other information regarding the relocation can be found on the County of Summit website at co.summit.oh.us.