DHS Spruce St. buildings to become empty soon
Once anticipated as early as this month, the move of the El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS) to the recently purchased Garden of the Gods Road
facility is now expected to occur no later than January or February.
According to county spokesperson Jennifer Brown, that will mean the relocation of current operations in the buildings at 17 and 105 N. Spruce St. that typically involve more than 600 people a day, including clients and county staff.
The county does not expect to reuse the two neighboring structures. Plans call for the properties to be sold, although nothing is currently in the works. Situated just west of I-25, they take up a combined total of 4 acres, with most of the non-structural space consisting of parking lots.
“There has been interest in the buildings, but nothing definitive,” Brown said. “We want to be sure we get some value out of them.”
DHS will occupy the third floor of the Corporate Ridge Administration Building (formerly owned by the Intel company) at 1555-1675 Garden of the Gods Road. The county finalized the purchase in mid-October, along with a broad strategy to move several departments into the new building, renovate a few current county-owned facilities elsewhere and sell others.
Renovations are under way to prepare the Corporate Ridge building for its first county occupants. Part of the work includes creating lobbies and office space, but “the reason it's taking so much time,” Brown explained, is the utility work required to redo the building's central heating and power supply so that those functions are controlled separately from those in other Intel structures on the site.
Under current plans, the first actual DHS personnel in Corporate Ridge are to be there Dec. 20. These will be 19 staffers handling caseloads for Food Assistance and Medicaid cases. They are now situated in the county's Sand Creek office, which is closing. “Initially, they will work on cases in the new facility, but there will be no client visits at the Garden of the Gods facility until the entire department is moved out of the Spruce Street buildings and into Corporate Ridge,” Brown said.
Also set to relocate to Corporate Ridge (dates as yet unspecified) will be the Health Department, Pikes Peak Workforce Center, Clerk and Recorder, Assessor, Treasurer and Office of Emergency Management, according to county plans.
The relocation will mean more cars on Garden of the Gods Road and fewer on Spruce. Brown said statistics show that “82 percent of our clients come by car.” As for those taking the bus, Route 14 goes from the downtown, north on Walnut and Chestnut streets, then onto Centennial Boulevard and eventually Garden of the Gods Road.
Westside Pioneer article