Harris County is buying a building to house voting machines and other equipment that will replace a warehouse destroyed by fire last August. The $4.35 million purchase of a facility on Todd Road near the intersection of Hempstead Highway and 34th is expected to close this month, said John Blount, director of architecture and engineering.
After a renovation, the building will house voting machines, the County Clerk’s archives, Tax Assessor-Collector’s distribution center and perhaps records of several justices of the peace and other county departments.
“Me and my team, we just worked our butts off finding the best possible replacement location,” Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said. “Online we looked at over 100 places. In person I know I looked at at least three or four dozen. We scoured the county trying to find the best deal for the taxpayers.”
Insurance payouts will provide $4.2 million toward the purchase of the new facility and the lease of the space Stanart currently is using, said David Kester, director of risk management. Stanart also plans to put $1.8 million in grant funds toward the purchase. Blount said the renovation will cost an estimated $2 million.
Though tax dollars will be spent initially, Blount’s department analyzed this approach compared to rebuilding the old warehouse on Canino Road and found clear long-term savings in buying the new facility.
The Todd Road warehouse is twice the size of the old building and will consolidate archives from multiple county offices, saving the lease costs at those locations, Blount said. It also would not require pallets to be laid down as walkways in the flooded parking lot after each rain, as was common at the old location, Stanart said.