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Forsyth finalizes design for $95 million Administration Building campus

CUMMING, Ga. – Forsyth County officials are heading into the final design phase for a new Administration Building campus on Freedom Parkway near Ga. 400.

The new government complex, with an estimated price tag of $95 million, is needed because the government and the services it provides have outgrown the downtown Cumming headquarters, county officials say.

“The county has had to rent space on West Maple Street paying $400,000 in rent per year,” Forsyth County Manager Kevin Tanner said.

The new campus will be a one-stop-shop service facility, where “everyone will be under one roof,” Tanner said.

Renderings show the proposed new Forsyth County Administration Building, Employee Center and Commissioner Meeting Room that will sit on 42 acres on Freedom Parkway near Ga. 400.

The campus will occupy 42 acres and include the Administration Building and Employee Center, the Whole Health Building and greenspace amenities.

The new four-story Administration Building headquarters is approximately 130,000-square-feet, enough space to house nearly 14 county departmental functions, such as bill payment, permitting, business licensing and other administrative services. The first floor single-story Commissioner Meeting Room will occupy a large wing of the building, with an above outdoor roof deck. With public and secured access areas, room interiors include commissioners and administrative offices, conference, training facilities, and other services rooms.

The facility will have state-of-the-art capabilities for the county’s broadcasting operations.

“The Communications Department will have a quality system for in-person and virtual meetings,” Tanner said.

The Employee Center, located in the same building, will be approximately 25,000-square-feet and is designed to attract and retain long-term employment for Forsyth County.

“Having a healthy work force in mind…the county sent out a survey to employees on what they would like to see,” Tanner said. “The center is a place where employees can go and get a PA (physician assistant) nurse, medication, 24-hour gym, attend nutrition classes, the wellness center, and lounge.” County officials are reviewing the results of the surveys received.

Commercial options for the building, Tanner said, include room for from two to three retail spaces available for, most likely, food vendors who will submit offers to the county to operate in the building.

The Whole Health Building, approximately 65,000 in square footage, will contain a new mental health facility along with the Forsyth County Department of Health. Avita Community Partners (formed by the Georgia Legislature with facilities throughout the state), will operate a health unit for inpatient and outpatient mental health and other services for adults and youth in one part of the facility. After relocation, the County Health Department will continue offering services such as healthcare, vaccines, WIC and dental services in another.

Greenspace on the campus includes a passive park with walking trail and picnic area. Ample parking will be available onsite.

Tanner estimates that the Administration Building will cost about $47 million, about half the $95 million price tag. The Employee Center has an estimated cost of $11 million, and $34 million will go for the Whole Health Center.

Forsyth County will pay for the cost of the Administration Building and for making the Whole Health Building pad-ready. Part of the cost for the Employee Center will be provided through savings garnered from employee insurance.

The Whole Health Building is funded through the U.S. Department of the Treasury, American Rescue Plan Fund.

Completion of the final design is scheduled for September. County leaders are evaluating proposals to decide a contractor for site development and construction. Work is slated to begin in spring 2023, with completion in 18 months.