County building to open Monday

After more than a year of construction the new St. Louis County Government Services Center in Virginia is nearing completion.

VIRGINIA — The new St. Louis County Government Services Center in Virginia will partially open to the public Monday, starting with offices from the Public Health and Human Services department.

Visitors can use the entrance on 3rd Street to access the building and PHHS services, while other departments will continue to operate from the Northland Building until the move is completed. A press release from St. Louis County said all departments are expecting to be in their new location on Monday, Sept. 16.

The opening of the new building comes nearly 16 months after the county broke ground on the $19 million project in downtown Virginia, a change necessitated by security concerns and aging infrastructure at the Northland Building.

The building is a two-story, 63,000 square foot facility that replaces the Northland Building as a hub location for northern St. Louis County services. About 180 employees will call the Government Service Center home from more than 10 county departments including the Assessors Office, Auditor's Office, Environmental Services, Extension, Human Resources, Mine Inspector, Planning and Community Development and Veterans Services.

Once all employees have moved into the new building, demolition on the Northland Building will begin with the goal of having it removed in favor of a gravel parking lot by winter. Next year, the parking lot will be paved, the county said.

The main entrance of the Government Service Center will be closed during the demolition process and a limited number of parking spots will be available on the south side of the building. The 3rd Street entrance will remain open and parking will shift to the north side of the new building when the parking lot opens.

County officials are planning a ribbon cutting and open house on the Government Service Center later this year after the old building is demolished.

Leading up to the decision to demolish the Northland Building, St. Louis County and the city of Virginia worked on options for it for more than a year. The county placed the building up for sale, but received no viable bids from private entities. County officials sought bids that would add to the economic development in downtown Virginia.

In 2017, the Virginia City Council voted to vacate the 300 block of 1st Street S. to make way for the Government Service Center, which took several council votes to reach the required city-mandated supermajority vote.

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