McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture was chosen from 13 finalists the council began interviewing last fall. The county will pay a projected $239,000 to the firm for the phase 1 concept design based on a projected $24 million construction cost, said County Administrator Clay Killian.
Over the past several weeks, county council members had delayed selecting the firm until the county and the company could come to consensus on cost, said County Councilwoman LaWana McKenzie.
"We wanted to make sure it was the right firm and right fit for the county," she said. "We also wanted to use taxpayers' dollars wisely."
Killian said the company will take about a year to design the complex at the site of the current building on Richland Avenue. Renovating the 80-year-old building would cost more than demolishing the building and starting from scratch, Killian said. The architectural firm would charge a 7 percent fee on the $24 million construction cost for renovating compared with a 6.3 percent fee for building new.
"It makes it more difficult to rebuild, because of the age of the building," Killian said.
In other business, the council unanimously voted to amend a county ordinance that has limited cell phone coverage in the area. The ordinance required that towers not exceed 100 feet. The amendment would increase the height requirements to up to 250 feet. The amendment must be approved on a second and third reading before cellular companies can add towers to the area.