Thurston County is growing, and with that growth comes a need for more capacity to continue to provide exceptional public service to the community. To support this, the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) voted 2-1
to move forward with a lease of The Atrium at 3000 Pacific Avenue in Olympia to house the county’s general government operations. The seven-year lease
with the property owner will begin April 1, 2022. Once general government operations move to The Atrium, the county will make improvements to the buildings on the Hilltop Campus, located at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW in Olympia, to meet the needs of new Law and Justice Center.
The seven-year lease will cost $1.5 to $1.8 million, or $17.50 per square foot, and commits the county to seven years with an opportunity to extend the lease term by additional years. The current market value in Olympia for similar office buildings is between $24 and $27 per square foot. This savings will help the county save more than $4 million in taxpayer dollars per a seven-year term. The proposed moves are:
The Atrium (3000 Pacific Avenue, Olympia) General Government Building
BoCC, including Commissioner’s Chambers/Board Room
Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED)
Public Works Development Review
Public Health and Social Services Environmental Health Permit Review
Central Services Admin and Accounting
Board of Equalization
Hilltop Campus (Law and Justice Center)
Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (Criminal and Civil Divisions)
Buildings 5 & 6:
The leasing of the Atrium is 'Plan B'. In 2018, Thurston County and The City of Olympia began collaborating on a project to build a new Thurston County Courthouse and Regional Administrative Building. Through a feasibility study, the BoCC narrowed down three of 12 sites for evaluation. These sites were the current Hilltop Campus, a undeveloped property on Harrison Street, and the City of Olympia's Leigh Crieghton Justice Center on Plum Street. The BoCC selected the Plum Street location in a 2-1 vote.
The proposal was intended to go forward to Thurston County citizens for approval as a ballot measure on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. If approved, the property tax on a $300,000 house would have been about $12 more per month; the cost to build the new facilities was estimated at $250 million.
This cost would have been funded by an increase to the county’s 2021 regular property tax levy, to a total authorized rate of $1.56 per $1,000 valuation. The 2021 levy would have been used as the base for subsequent levy limitations for a total of 25 years. The increase exempted qualified seniors/disabled/veterans from the levy.
However, the BoCC voted unanimously
to rescind the ballot measure on March 18, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the BoCC directed the county manager to begin exploring other options to support space needs. In March 2021, the county manager presented the board with the proposal to increase office space with a leasing strategy and moving general government out of the Courthouse Complex.