Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has announced the opening of a new Columbus headquarters for the Secretary of State’s office, completing a relocation project that began in 2019. The new facility, located at 180 Civic Center Drive, offers a downsized, more functional space for the office, with enhanced security features, such as on-site parking for the agency’s full-time employees and, for the first time ever, a secure guest parking option for constituents visiting the office’s customer service center.
“We didn’t have access to on-site parking for our employees, and that’s a safety issue I wanted to address,” said LaRose. “This move allows us to downsize to a more functional, collaborative space that enhances our service to the people of Ohio. We’re able to do that through a lease arrangement that’s well below the market rate for downtown properties. Most importantly, the one-time costs associated with the move are funded at no cost to Ohio taxpayers.”
A few key facts about the Secretary of State’s office relocation project:
- Work began on identifying downtown Columbus properties in January of 2019, when Secretary LaRose took office and asked his senior staff to begin evaluating facility options ahead of a pending lease expiration. That process led to a formal review of eight properties, including the possible renewal of lease terms at the office’s location at 180 E. Broad St., Columbus. In June of 2022, the team toured a multi-tenant office building at 200 Civic Center Drive and chose to move forward with formal lease negotiations.
- The office has been publicly transparent about the move. In January of 2023, representatives of the Department of Administrative Services real estate services office went before the state’s bipartisan Controlling Board on behalf of the office to request a waiver of competitive bidding that would allow for the new lease agreement to be formalized. The Controlling Board gave bipartisan approval to that request. In June of 2023, the Department of Administrative Services returned to the Controlling Board to renew the request for the new fiscal year, and again it received bipartisan approval.
- The Controlling Board request clearly stated that the relocation was motivated in large part by the desire to identify secure, on-site parking for employees. Unlike staff of the General Assembly and other statewide executive offices, the Secretary of State’s former location did not have a secure parking option that can accommodate our full-time staff. Most employees were required to find parking at their own expense in nearby garages or at street meters, sometimes commuting to and from the office at very early or late hours due to the nature of our work in election administration. It’s been well-documented that threats against election personnel are a growing problem nationwide, and the office’s former parking limitations only added to those anxieties.
- The relocation of the Secretary of State’s office will be funded at zero cost to Ohio taxpayers. All expenditure related to the move will be funded with revenue received from business filing fees collected by the office. When the project began in 2019, the Department of Administrative Services provided an estimated relocation cost in 2019 of between $1.3 million and $1.8 million. Since that time, supply costs and services have risen due to inflation, but the Secretary of State’s office has managed to keep the overall relocation budget to nearly net-neutral, due to the acquisition of $1.5 million in furniture and equipment that will become the property of the state as part of the lease agreement.
“Recruiting and retaining employees to public service isn’t always easy, so giving them a workspace that’s safe, functional and collaborative is an incentive that will benefit not only our employees but also the people they serve,” said LaRose.
“We have team members who’ve worked for multiple secretaries of state going back several decades sending us notes of thanks for this move. They’re excited about the opportunity, and that makes it even more worthwhile.”
180 Civic Center Dr. is both our official mailing address and the physical address for our Client Service Center. The Client Service Center will also have its own public ramp entrance from Civic Center