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The NC DMV headquarters must move in two years; here’s where it may go

The state Division of Motor Vehicles has begun looking for a place to move the more than 500 people who work in its headquarters near downtown Raleigh, and developers and real estate brokers have come forward with 10 options.

DMV is seeking to lease offices in Wake or surrounding counties for 15 years starting in 2020. The responses DMV received to its request for proposals indicate that the agency and its workers will move outside the Beltline but may not go far.

Seven of the proposals involve leasing space in existing buildings, including four office complexes in North Raleigh and a former Sam’s Club in Morrisville. The other two are vacant land in Garner where buildings could be built for DMV’s use. All of the proposed locations are in Wake County or Research Triangle Park except for one: the former Hardee’s headquarters in Rocky Mount.

DMV must vacate its home offices on New Bern Avenue by the end of November 2020 under an agreement with the state Department of Insurance and the State Construction Office. In 2007, the state determined that DMV’s buildings were no longer safe, because of asbestos and fire code violations, and DMV agreed to make minor upgrades in return for five years to come up with a permanent solution.

DMV considered doing extensive renovations to its headquarters complex at a cost of about $73 million, or demolishing it and building new from scratch for about $93 million, according to a N.C. Department of Transportation report to legislators in May. Both options would involve building a new parking deck and would require the agency to lease space elsewhere for three years or more.

DMV also determined that it could build a new headquarters on land the state Department of Transportation owns off Poole Road near the Beltline for an estimated $85 million.

But the legislature hasn’t provided any money. Instead, the state budget approved this summer directed the agency to begin seeking leased space in Wake or surrounding counties by Aug. 1. The NCDOT report to the General Assembly estimated it would cost DMV $2.7 million to $3.7 million a year to lease headquarters space.

The main DMV headquarters building opened in 1957 and was expanded in 1966; a four-story annex was completed in 1981, bringing the total size of the complex to more than 210,000 square feet. The report to legislators said about 646 people worked in the buildings as of this spring, and that about 15,000 customers visit each month.

The state and local politicians who represent Southeast Raleigh have expressed concerns about losing jobs from their part of the city. It’s not clear what the state will do with the DMV complex, which covers more than six acres. The report to legislators indicated that NCDOT could renovate the newer building and use it for other state employees, but that the larger, older building would be demolished.

The state budget directed the Department of Administration to seek new offices for DMV “outside Raleigh.” In an interview this summer, Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican who heads the House Appropriations Committee for Transportation, said that language was intentional, in an attempt to spread the benefits of state offices to communities outside the capital city.

But the request for proposals published July 30 did not specify that the offices be outside Raleigh, only that they be in “Wake County or surrounding counties.” Three of the proposals were for offices off Sumner Boulevard, Bland Boulevard and Highwoods Boulevard in North Raleigh.

NCDOT is reviewing the lease proposals and says it expects to make a recommendation to the State Property Office, which will present it to Council of State for a final decision in December or January.

Here are the developers and real estate brokers who answered the DMV’s call for new offices and where they propose the agency move:

NAI Carolantic: 1405-1625 Church St. in Rocky Mount, the former Hardee’s headquarters.

Red Rock Developments: Greenfield South off U.S. 70 in Garner

Karlin: 2400 Ellis Road, Ellis Research Center in the Durham part of Research Triangle Park

Al Neyer: Land at 2337 U.S. 70 in Garner

BPG Management Company: Sumner Business Park, Sumner Boulevard in North Raleigh

Trinity Partners: 4401, 4405 and 4407 Bland Road in North Raleigh

Jones Lang LaSalle: The former Sam’s Club at 1101 Shiloh Glen Drive in Morrisville

Highwoods: Two proposals — 4800 North Park and Dogwood and 3100 Smoketree and Dogwood, both in North Raleigh

Cushman and Wakefield: 700 Park Offices Drive, on The Frontier office campus in Research Triangle Park

Source: N.C. Department of Administration

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling
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