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First tenants moving in at new Harford Agriculture Center

The first tenants of Harford County’s new Agricultural Center are expected to begin moving in Monday, according to county government.

The center is in the former Glen Echo Furniture Building on Route 1 in Street has undergone a nearly $2 million makeover since the county bought the building, which included a showroom and warehouse, for $950,000 in March 2016.

The Harford County Board of Estimates last month approved the initial leases for the tenants that will occupy part of the building: University of Maryland Agricultural Extension Office; State of Maryland Department of Agriculture Forest Pest Management; State of Maryland Harford Soil Conservation District; and Harford County Farm Bureau Inc.

The Forest Pest Management Service and Soil Conservation District will occupy approximately 2,500 square feet each and will pay annual rent of $13,608 and $13,950, respectively, according to documents from the Dec. 19 Board of Estimates meeting where the leases were approved.

The Extension Office will occupy approximately 3,100 square feet and the Farm Bureau 107 square feet, according to the same documents. Both will pay a nominal rent of $1 annually.

The four leases are for one year each, with four annual renewal options.

“The overall project is to consolidate many of the support services for the ag community to promote future sustainability of the ag industry and serve as an education resource for the community,” county administration spokesperson Cindy Mumby said.

The county also will save money in rental payments, she said, explaining the government had been paying $52,000 in annual rent for the old Klein’s building in Forest Hill. With the new center, the county will receive more than $27,500 in rent, she said.

Opening a one-stop agricultural services center in Harford County’s northern farm belt has been a goal of County Executive Barry Glassman.

The Glen Echo property became available when its owners decided to retire.

Conveniently for the county, the building in the 3500 block of Conowingo Road is adjacent to 65 acres the county owns around the intersection of Routes 1 and 136, where Glassman eventually wants to develop an agricultural research and exposition center. The latter is a long-range plan, but the new service center fits with it.

The new Ag Center is next door to the restored Joesting-Gorsuch House, a historic wood frame house that was dismantled from its original location on Tollgate Road in Bel Air and rebuilt at the Street location in 2016 to serve as a future visitors center for the northern part of the county.

As part of the renovation and upgrading of the Ag Center building, additional parking was constructed between that building and the Joesting-Gorsuch House.

Mumby said the ag center construction and renovation was about 95 percent as of late last week.

According to the project budget, slightly more than $2 million was earmarked for evaluation, design and construction. About $1.63 million has been spent to date, Mumby said.

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