After shoehorning its operations into ever tightening quarters for the last decade or more, Dallas County government will soon find itself with an embarrassment of spatial riches following the purchase by the county of the property formerly occupied by Adel Chrysler on the courthouse square.
The James William Doll Revocable Living Trust, owner of the Adel properties, recently accepted the county’s proferred purchase price of $610,000, the Dallas County Supervisors reported Tuesday. The deal is expected to close in early August.
The sale comprises two lots, including 818 Court St., site of the former Adel Chrysler showroom and service areas, a 6,000-square-foot building on a 13,992-square-foot lot, assessed for tax purposes by the Dallas County Assessor’s office in 2019 at $321,360. The second piece of property is at 901 Rapids St., a 17,424-square-foot parking lot assessed at $123,440.
In order to discuss options for programming these newly acquired spaces, the Dallas County Board of Supervisors conducted a facilities workshop during Tuesday morning’s regular meeting.
“I guess what we probably need to do is walk through the options or the needs or the choices,” said Mark Hanson, chair of the board of supervisors. “You could argue — okay, I have no idea what it be to remodel that building for possible office use or for possible court use or for possible other use.”
Two suggestions rising at the workshop for short-term uses of the 6,000-square-foot building on Court Street centered on the needs for housing the county’s archives and for centralizing the county’s maintenance and faciities resources. Dallas County Finance and Operations Director Rob Tietz and Dallas County Facilities Manager Ron Herring added to the workshop by answering questions about the current state of affairs.
Along with office cubicles fronting Court Street, the former dealership building contains five shop bays and a rear office in the former parts department.
“For lack of a better word,” Tietz said, “there’s more facilities-type space in there, with the garages that facilities could use or EMS could use or roads could use, and then there’s office space.”
Tietz observed that by bringing all of Herring’s far-flung facilities resources into the new location, “we could remove all of the equipment that we have currently in the sheriff’s boiler room, which is technically illegal to have it in there anyway.”
Some facilities gear is also stored at the Human Services Campus north of Adel, and some is in the basment of 902 Court St., below the supervisors’ chambers.
“We’re running out of storage space downstairs,” Herring told the supervisors. “It’s piling up. Right now, downstairs is everybody’s dumping grounds.”
Dallas County Supervisor Brad Golightly asked whether facilities stands more in need of operating space or storage space. Ron Herring answered both are needed.
“I would have difficulty with having prime real estate used as a dumping ground for old desks and old stuff,” Golightly said. He said the new Court Street building might help to facilitate a system of central purchasing for county departments, an idea Tietz floated last year as a cost-control method.
Dallas County Supervisor Kim Chapman said relocating the county archives from the basement of 902 Court St. would eliminate the risk of flood damage to the records.
“Short term, what’s our footprint for archives right now?” Chapman said. “What’s the square footage for the archives?”
Dallas County Supervisors Administrative Assistant Melinda Harney, who supervises the archives, said the county is the custodian of several categories of records, including historical land records open to the public and confidential state court records, only accessible to staffers from the clerk of court’s office.
Chapman also spoke to the long-term use of the former vehicle dealership. He is the board’s liaison with the Iowa Fifth Judicial District Court Administration, which is currently planning one new courtroom on the second floor of the Dallas County Courthouse and might have future need of the soon-to-be-vacant sheriff’s office and jail.
“I think that building could be easy to connect with the current sheriff’s office,” Chapman said. “We’re going to be using that building — that’s the plan, the old sheriff’s office, once they vacate — for the courts and related services. Long term, I see possible court administration being located in this building and the courthouse being courtrooms.”
Wrapping up the brainstorming workshop, the supervisors concluded that further consideration was in order before any decisions could be made. When the latest real estate deal closes, the county will own:
- the half-block north of the courthouse on the north side of Court Street between Nile Kinnick Drive N. and Ninth Street
- the eastern approximately two-thirds of the half-block on the north side of Court Street between Ninth and 10th streets
- the half-block on the south side of Rapids Street between Ninth and 10th streets
The county also owns Adel properties at 121 N. Ninth St., the county assessor’s office; the old Doc Hanlon building at 910 Court St., programmed for elections equipment for the county auditor’s office; the Dallas County EMS quarters at 512 Nile Kinnich Dr. S.; the Dallas County Secondary Roads motor grader facility in the 500 block of Greene Street and a parking lot in the 100 block of N. Seventh Street.