As the Maury County Commission plans to establish a court annex at the former home of The Daily Herald, the county’s representatives now recommend that the building be demolished to make way for new construction.
The recommendation comes after a March meeting when it was determined that the annex is expected to cost taxpayers an estimated $19 million, an increase of about $9 million from the initial estimate.
As currently drafted, the site is planned to house five courtrooms that will range in seating from 67 to 142 people, according to plans shared by the Nashville-based Architect Workshop.
“We are going to save money by tearing the old building down and building a new two-story building on the site,” said Jamie Spencer of Hewlett Spencer LLC, the organization tasked with managing the design and construction of the project.
The county’s building committee will meet during an upcoming special-called meeting on April 19 to decide on how to move forward following additional review by the project’s architects.
The new courthouse that will be located in the expanded structure of the former home of The Daily Herald, 1115 South Main St., is planned to house the county’s criminal, circuit and general sessions courts in addition to the court clerk’s office.
The move is being carried out to provide an alternative to the county's historic courthouse as the building, constructed in 1906, has long been a point of concern for elected officials and leaders of the local court system due to overcrowding, security and limited accessibility.
Commissioners Debbie Turner and Craig Harris recommended the board increase the project’s budget from $19 million to build a second floor at the site to ensure the project’s longevity.
“If we are going to do this, we need to do it right and plan for the long term, whatever we do,” said Turner, who represents District 8 on the commission. “Let’s do it for the long haul.”
Budget committee chair Scott Sumners said he estimates a 45,000 square foot building would cost the county about $25 million based on previous estimates.
'WE HAVE TO GROW': Maury County finalizes purchase of former Daily Herald building
“We want to make sure this is done right so the next commission and the commission after that does not have to fool with this anymore,” Sumners said.
“But we don’t want to break the bank. This, to me, is a big issue going forward. We have got the money to do it. We need to do it because it is never going to get done again without going to the taxpayers and asking for a property tax increase.”
The project can be funded with the assistance of several county tax incomes, including its litigation tax created specifically for its court system.
“I am in 100% agreement that this is a better idea,” said Commissioner Tommy Wolaver. “Realizing that this is more money I would like to see us build a building in its entirety and stay under $25 million because I don’t want to see us go to other funding sources.”
Maury County Commission Chairman Don Morrow, the man who initially proposed that the commission purchase the former 16,605-square foot newsroom and operations center, said he remains confident the project will be a long-term benefit to the growing community.
“This is huge that this commission has gotten to this point,” Morrow said. “We are number one in growth. People elected us to do things, and I am proud of this commission for trying to push this forward.”
Reach Mike Christen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH and on Instagram at @michaelmarco. Please consider supporting his work and that of other Daily Herald journalists by subscribing to the publication.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Herald: Demolition recommended to make way for new court annex in Columbia