The Durham County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to merge the Wake and Durham mental health agencies and to sign a letter of intent for the combined agency to lease 55,000 square feet in a Triangle Transit-owned building in the Imperial Center.
The new agency is expected to move into its new headquarters July 1.
A number of private landlords who were competing for the lease had complained about the deal.
Triangle Transit purchased the 75,000-square-foot building in December for nearly $3.8 million using money from its general fund, which comes from vehicle registration taxes paid by residents in Durham, Orange and Wake counties.
The authority had leased about 15,000 square feet in the building for several years before deciding to purchase the building.
Triangle Transit's deal with the mental health agency calls for it to make improvements to the space that are likely to cost at least $825,000. That money also will come from the authority's general fund.
Triangle Transit officials say the building purchase will save the authority money. It allows the authority to eliminate about $287,000 in annual lease payments, while the money spent to buy the building will ultimately deliver a better return than what that money earned in the Triangle Transit's investment accounts.
They also say the deal made sense because Triangle Transit has also already invested in moving its bus transfer station to the Imperial Center property.
Neal Coker, whose partnership Pinnacle Park LLC owns a Durham building the mental health agency also considered, criticized the building purchase, saying the authority had no business using public funds to compete with private landlords.