By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles says it will save money and be more efficient after it moves from downtown Montgomery to rented space on the city’s east side.
Agency leadership announced the move on Friday. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the board said information about the cost and savings isn’t yet available because a lease at Capitol Commerce Center hasn’t been signed and a few details have to be finalized.
“I can assure you we are getting a very, very good deal,” Skip Tucker, news director for the agency, said. Tucker said details of the lease would be shared as soon as it’s signed.
“For all intents and purposes, we’re going to be moving to a new building,” Tucker said.
Most of Pardons and Paroles operations are now housed in a Retirement Systems of Alabama-owned building on Ripley Street in downtown Montgomery, a few blocks from the State House and Capitol.
The building, a former hospital, is public safety hub also housing Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Department of Corrections offices.
Tucker said that Pardons and Paroles Director Charlie Graddick, whose appointment by Gov. Kay Ivey was effective Sept. 1, initiated the move after seeing that the agency’s current space is “distressed” and “disjointed.”
“Judge Graddick saw that there was a need to try to bring everyone under one roof,” Tucker said. “Bottom line, we are getting more space at a savings.”
Neah Scott, legislative counsel for RSA, told Alabama Daily News that Pardons and Paroles’ lease on 44,000 square feet of space has expired.
“I would expect we’ll try to fill it,” Scott said about the space. RSA leases space to multiple state agencies, boards and commissions in several buildings in Montgomery.
In the Friday press release, Graddick said the move was prompted in part by RSA’s planned renovations to the Ripley Street building. Scott also said there are no planned renovations.
“We wouldn’t undertake renovations without a signed lease,’ she said.
Graddick said the move would happen in three stages with central staff moving this month. Pardons and Paroles has more 500 employees and he said he expects the move to be complete by April 2020. Inmates’ parole hearings could start early next year.
Ample parking for visitors at the new site is one of its benefits, Tucker said.
Capital Commerce Center is the former Colonial Bank headquarters near exit 11 on I-85. Colonial built the 209,000-square foot building in 2006. Three years later, the bank failed. According to county records, the building is now owned by Montgomery Colonial Property, LCC, based in Arkansas. According to previous reporting by The Montgomery Advertiser, the current owner purchased the structure in 2010 for rental space.
Pardons and Parole won’t be the only state agency to have space at Capitol Commerce Center. The Alabama Department of Transportation’s Southeast Region has had administrative offices there since 20014.
Graddick in September also postposed hundreds of parole hearings, saying time is needed to get the agency in compliance with victim notification laws. Those hearings are expected to resume in early November.