The Douglas County Board of Education voted Monday night to purchase the GreyStone Power headquarters on Veterans Memorial Highway in Douglasville.
The school system plans to relocate its central office to the GreyStone site. GreyStone is building a new headquarters on 194 acres at the corner of Highway 92 and Ridge Road in Paulding County and plans to move in early next year.
“This is a win-win for GreyStone, the school system and the community,” Douglas County Schools Superintendent Trent North said. “The current central office on Highway 5 has served the school system well for many years, but we need to bring our departments together under one roof and provide a healthy work environment for our employees. Purchasing the GreyStone building helps us and helps the community by keeping a landmark building in Douglasville occupied and maintained.”
The BOE is paying $12.5 million for the GreyStone building, which North said is a $1 million less than the $13.5 million it appraised for. The school system will pay GreyStone for the building over 15 years as part of a lease-purchase agreement, North said.
North said the school system started discussing the building with GreyStone in 2015, two years before he was appointed superintendent.
North said the school system has been “slowly budgeting for” the move over the past few years.
He said the school system had looked into the cost of building a new facility rather than purchasing the GreyStone building. He said the cost with purchasing land would have been around $35 million.
“There’s no way from a fiscal perspective I would ever recommend to the board a $35 million project,” North said.
While a larger scale project didn’t make sense, he said the deal with GreyStone did.
Douglasville architect Terry Miller will oversee renovations for the school system’s new central office, including design of a boardroom and professional learning spaces. North estimated renovations could cost an additional roughly $2 million, which will be paid for with Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds.
North said he hopes the school system can be in the new facility by next spring.
Approximately 150 employees work at the current Douglas County School System Central Office, which is located at 9035 Highway 5, just north of Interstate 20 next to Hunter Park. Around 40 school system employees who are currently located at the school system’s Murray Educational Center in the old Bill Arp Elementary and some employees who work at the transportation “bus barn” on Duralee Lane will also move to the new location.
The facility that currently houses the school system’s central office was originally built in the 1970s as a manufacturing and warehouse facility. The school system purchased the property in 1986.
Only eight offices in the building have windows, and HVAC issues have been an ongoing challenge as the space was divided to create additional offices to accommodate the growth of the school system, North said. He said the metal building was not designed to hold offices, and that strong winds and storms pose risks for employees at the current central office.
North said the current facility will be razed once the move to the GreyStone building is complete and a multi-purpose facility will be constructed on the 18-acre site.
The new multi-purpose venue will be able to host the county’s graduations, which are currently held in Carrollton at the University of West Georgia. The multi-purpose facility will be paid for with E-SPLOST funds.
Assistant Superintendent of District Operations Kwame Carr and North both said the new venue will be at an ideal location for the graduations and other big events.
“It is near I-20 and has access from Highway 5 and Highway 78,” Carr said. “The school system already owns the 18 acres, so we can begin construction as soon as our plans are ready.”
North said construction on the new venue is expected to begin sometime in 2021.