The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a plan Wednesday to spend up to $26.5 million on remodeling and construction to turn the Medford post office building into a county center for health and human services operations.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a plan Wednesday to spend up to $26.5 million on remodeling and construction to turn the Medford post office building into a county center for health and human services operations.

The work, which is expected to take more than three years to complete, will involve extensive remodeling of the former federal building at 333 W. Eighth St. and construction of an adjacent parking structure.

County Administrator Danny Jordan said the purchase will pay for itself in time and be a long-term benefit to the county and the clients it serves.

"We anticipate certainly at the minimum recovering our investment," Jordan said.

The county purchased the four-story, 85,000-square-foot building in August for about $2 million and announced plans at that time to consolidate spread-out health and human services operations in the single location.

County officials authorized $26.5 million for the project, $4 million of which is in the next fiscal year's budget. The additional funds will go toward retrofitting the building for seismic retrofitting and additional parking.

Construction contracts have not yet been awarded for the project, so no actual costs are available yet. Jordan said bids had not yet been sought and that the size of the project meant it would likely be some time before they had a firmer figure. The $26.5 million would serve as a cap on what the county is willing to spend, he noted.

"This is a pretty major project," said Jordan.

County officials said the move will consolidate more than 200 health and human services employees under one roof. It will also put their services in a more central, accessible location for clients. The building is two blocks from the county courthouse and across the street from Medford City Hall.

"This facility puts us much closer to the client base that we serve," Jordan said.

Of the $26.5 million budgeted for the project, about $10 million will come from the county general fund, with that money going toward construction of the parking garage at the rear of the building.

The additional $16.5 million are existing funds in health services ending fund balances collected over several years and will be used for remodeling the facility. Health services are provided by the county but are funded through a variety of sources, including state and federal dollars.

No additional funds will be sought from the public. Once the health and human services offices have been moved, the county could rent or sell its existing facilities.

"This has been well thought out," Commissioner Don Skundrick said. "It's been well-vetted."

The parking garage could be up to four or five stories tall with approximately 375 to 400 spaces.

The postal service has narrowed its search for a new home to five properties. Three potential sites are on Fir Street, with two other candidates on West Main Street and North Central Avenue.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.