Ocean County has funded the construction of a massive, new $47 million social services complex to be constructed to replace six buildings that currently house a number of offices.
The building will be constructed at the same site as the current complex, 1027 Hooper Avenue, but it will be owned by the county. The county purchased the land at the site from the Grunin family and will also own the new building outright. The new building will be built more efficiently, require far less maintenance and will not require leasing fees. The county paid $7 million for the land in 2018.
The county freeholder board has chosen to include the $47 million in its 2020 capital budget, which is set to be approved next Wednesday.
The six existing buildings, some of which are aging and would require new roofs, will be replaced by one central building. There are numerous services offered at the site, including unemployment, Medicaid, food stamps and other programs for low-income residents.
“It’s a tremendous building that will serve a lot of Ocean County residents,” said Freeholder Gary Quinn.
The two biggest factors in purchasing the site were county ownership of the site and centralizing all services in one building, said County Administrator Carl Block. The county currently pays $2 million to lease both the buildings and land, and spent more than $4 million in total to keep up the complex.
As it currently stands, Block said, construction will most likely take place in late 2020 through 2021. The last lease agreement of the existing six buildings ends June 20, 2020.
“It’s a replacement building,” Block said, characterizing how the county views its role. “That leasing will come to an end and this building will replace leased space. It’s a swap-out, but we think it’s going to be a much better space.”