Franklin County Children Services will unveil its new three-floor, 96,000-square-foot central intake office during a public open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the agency's East Regional office at 4071 E. Main St. in Whitehall.
Construction began in April 2012 for the $17 million facility that will open Feb. 18.
The new building will house about 350 staff members who previously worked at either the former East Regional office at 205 N. Hamilton Road or the agency's former intake office at 525 E. Mound St.
The agency had leased the two sites that will be consolidated at the new intake office in Whitehall upon its opening Feb. 18. The agency's capital improvement budget funded the construction of the new building, formerly the site of Main Lanes, a bowling alley.
"Having more of our staff at the same location will improve our ability to work together and in turn help us communicate better with our clients and provide improved service," said Deborrha Armstrong, communication director for Franklin County Children Services.
The agency's West Regional office, at 1919 Frank Road and the administrative offices at 855 W. Mound St remain open.
"Our caseworkers will be relocated in Whitehall, where some family visitations will also occur," Armstrong said.
The Whitehall location will serve as the agency's 24/7 intake center for all children the agency accepts into custody.
Staff members will provide guided tours of the new East Regional office.
An official ceremony will begin at 4 p.m.
Scheduled guest speakers include John O'Grady, chairman of the Franklin County commissioners; Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard; and Chip M. Spinning, executive director of Franklin County Children Services.
The agency sought a new location for its central intake office for two reasons: It had outgrown the intake office on East Mound Street and the East Regional office on North Hamilton Road; the office on East Mound Street stood in the way of the proposed realignment of Interstates 70 and 71, often considered the heart of downtown Columbus.
Armstrong said the agency had been exploring options for relocating and consolidating the regional offices before choosing the Whitehall site.
Consolidation is expected to save the agency about $5.5 million in operating costs annually.
The Daimler Group is the builder, and Moody*Nolan is the architect for the $17 million project, which is being funded via the tax levy that supports Franklin County Children Services.