The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has received 18 proposals from property owners in Lawrence offering office space to house the Lawrence SRS area office.
James Wann, Lawrence area office director, said a team of state officials reviewed the proposals Tuesday. He said property owners who made the proposals will be invited to talk to the team about specifics. Formal bids will be requested after those meetings.
The search for a new building for the Lawrence SRS office began in October, when the city became the location of an area office covering seven counties. Until then, Lawrence and Douglas County were under the Topeka area SRS office.
LAWRENCE SRS currently operates out of a building at 619 E. Eighth. But in transforming the local office into a seven-county office, SRS is expected to increase local staff from about 60 to 95, which the existing office cannot accommodate.
Wann said the process of finding a larger office space is continuing even though the acting SRS secretary said new buildings would not be a priority during his tenure.
Wann said Acting SRS Director Robert Harder is expected to hold the position for only six months, and the process of locating a new office will take longer than that.
"He definitely intends to support the project," Wann said of Harder.
WANN SAID he hopes a contract either for construction of a new SRS office or lease of an existing building can be signed by early spring.
And he said he hopes to be able to move into the new office by late summer.
Wann said SRS officials hope to have a building with about 20,000 square feet, which would nearly double the current office size of 11,000 square feet.
Wann said factors that will be taken into consideration in choosing a building include location. He said SRS officials would prefer a site in east central Lawrence near a major highway.
"We are concerned about access for our clients and access for SRS workers coming from other offices," he said.