Some might say it took a century to get to this point, but one of Okaloosa County’s largest projects in its 100-year history is now complete. With the official opening on Tuesday of the county’s new administrative complex in Shalimar — coinciding with Okaloosa County’s centennial — county employees and officials got right to work, holding their first county commission meeting in the new facility Tuesday night.
The $12 million three-story building, designed and built by local companies DAG Architects and Lord & Son Construction, is the new home for the county commission chambers and offices. The complex also houses the tax collector’s office, the property appraiser’s office, growth management, veterans services, and other administrative offices for the county.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony, current county commissioners praised their predecessors for their dedication and efforts towards building the new administrative complex. “When I was commissioner, we quickly outgrew the old building because of its size and it required too much maintenance and wasn’t secure,” said Mike Mitchell, Okaloosa County commissioner from 1977-1993. “This wonderful new building is the solution to all of that.”
Until its demolition in 2014, the property was home to the Okaloosa County courthouse annex, which had sat vacant for several years as county officials fought to build a new administrative facility at the site. Erected in 1975 on land made available by the prominent Meigs family, the former county annex fell victim to its age and lacked ADA accessibility.
“This project is notable for being delivered on time and on budget,” said Commission Chairman Nathan Boyles. “I want to thank everyone who contributed to this project for that.”
Now that construction is complete, county employees are quickly moving from offices scattered across the county into the new 80,000 square foot building. With the move, Okaloosa County is able to save nearly $1 million a year in rent it pays to house various offices on Eglin Parkway in Fort Walton Beach.
“It’s a huge step forward,” Jason Autrey, public works director for Okaloosa County said. “Everything is all here in one spot and we couldn’t be happier.”