County Buys Old Shopping Center

It's a search that has been going on for years. Now, the search appears to be over.

Bay County commissioners have agreed to buy 17 acres of land on West 11th Street as the site for a new county office complex. Commissioners voted unanimously to spending $2.7 million on 17 and a half acres of land for a county office complex.

The site is the old 11th Street Shopping Center. The county's Human Resource building already occupies a small piece of the property. There's also a dry cleaners, and a bingo hall, but that will soon be changing.

County commissioners have been searching for the right place to relocate the county office complex. Last week, George Gainer said he was considering the 11th Street Center, a somewhat run-down strip building that's home to Wild Bill's Bingo Hall and a handful of other businesses.

"I'm almost to the point where if you don't buy it I will."

Commissioner Jerry Girvin say moving the offices to 11th Street with help bring new life to that area of town.

"I think we will help that area by putting a county complex in there it will upgrade that neighborhood and encourage additional development."

The $2.7 million price tag is less than a quarter the cost of several other properties the county had been considering.

"It would take care of this county for the next 20 to 25 years given even the growth we're even now looking at."

It's anticipated the shopping center will eventually be demolished. Two businesses here have outstanding leases until 2007 and 2008, but commissioners say this is something they can work around.