MOUNT VERNON — The search is back on. After a tentative settling of affairs between the Knox County Title Office, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Driver’s License Exam Station and landlord Tom Sutton, it seemed last spring that arrangements were falling into place for the three tenants to remain at their current North Sandusky Street location. Since then, however, little work has been done to the existing building, and the renovations the state of Ohio requires for the DLES are so substantial, they would raise the rent of all three tenants steeply.
Knox County Clerk of Courts Mary Jo Hawkins said that her rent would go up so high that it would be more cost effective to move to another, more modern building. To that end, she invited the Knox County Commissioners to tour space in a building on Harcourt Road available for lease from Joel Mazza on Thursday afternoon. Should all three offices consent to move together, Mazza has a 5,500-square-foot section which could be leased.
Mazza pointed out the advantages of the building, which include modern-style open interiors with minimal drywalling and carpeting, making the spaces easy to work on and expand or change. Mazza said that if all three entities were to move into the building, he would put a store facade with awning in the front, and put windows all the way down the side of the building. A gravel parking lot would be put in back for all employees, thus opening up the front parking lot, shared with Richardson Glass, Cross Roads Driving School and surrounding businesses.
Mazza also said that the front lot could be restriped to add 17 parking spaces. Additional attractions are the handicapped accessibility of the entire building, the relatively new installations of heating, cooling and electrical lines and a resurfaced roof.
Mazza said that he would start with a base rental rate of $6 per square foot, and costs for additional building could be amortized into that. He said that based on project requirements he had read about previously in the News, he had trouble imagining how he could spend more than $125,000 making the changes needed. This was likely to leave the rental price lower than the North Sandusky Road building’s. Knox County Commissioner TeresaBemiller asked Mazza to also work up some estimates on the cost of utilities. They all agreed that it would be a good fit for that side of town, with the close proximity of several car dealerships.
Hawkins said that BMV Deputy Registrar was open to the idea of relocating. Hawkins and Bemiller are going to meet with DLES officials on Sept. 9 to gauge their openness to moving. Hawkins said that either way, she does not intend to get stuck with high rent for what she regards as inferior office space. The funds for the title office’s rent come out of the Title Fund, not the county’s General Fund. Therefore, the county’s recent budget crisis has no direct bearing on the title office’s building situation.