01: Facilities Space Modernization Project
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This project will provide funding for land acquisition, design, construction, and/or equipping of public/governmental use facilities and/or renovations, improvements, additions to, and equipping of existing facilities so as to provide expanded modern space for community, governmental, and judicial functions currently provided at the existing historic Courthouse and annex. Depending upon costs and funding availability, this new space will provide approximately 142,000 square feet of building space for community functions currently provided at the existing historic Courthouse and annex plus space for additional courts; alternative courts; separate holding space for juvenile detainees; separate travel spaces for visitors, inmates, and judicial staff; and other related functions such as determined to be necessary for an effective and modern judicial space. This project will provide funding for the renovation of the existing historic Courthouse and annex into a facility for governmental operations and/or other uses benefiting the Unified Government and/or community, which may also include child care and/or the use of any unused space for commercial and/or retail use. Depending upon costs and funding availability, the Facilities Space Modernization Program will further serve as a mechanism to facilitate enhanced employee and/or community well-being initiatives. Examples of employee and community well-being initiatives could be elder care, child care, or other similar activities. Additionally, to the extent allowed by law, funds may be used as matching funds for leveraging grant opportunities.
Potential sites were evaluated by the SPLOST Site Selection Committee, a resident committee appointed by Mayor Kelly Girtz and chaired by District 1 Commissioner Patrick Davenport, and ranked based on the site selection criteria that was approved by the Mayor and Commission on November 1, 2022. Nine of the highest-scoring sites have been identified as potential sites for the facility. The sites are:
- 355 East Hancock Avenue – current location of Robert G. Stephens Federal Building
- 132 Cleveland Avenue / 1005 College Avenue – current location of ACCGov-owned CHaRM Facility / old Landfill
- 1570 Lexington Road – current location of B&B Theatres Athens 12
- 2915, 2665, 2555 Lexington Road – current location of ACCGov-owned properties for Landscape Management, public safety campus, and undeveloped land
- 160, 230 Strong Street – current location of surface parking lots managed by the Athens Downtown Parking System
- 484 North Avenue – current location of Piggly Wiggly and U-Haul Plaza
- 120 W. Dougherty Street – current location of ACCGov Dougherty Street Government Building
- 200 Boley Drive – current location of partially developed Athens Amphitheatre
- 165 Pulaski Street / 110 Newton Street / 354, 384, 396, 404, 414 West Broad Street – current location of Redeemer Presbyterian Church and undeveloped lots
Public meetings were held:
- Wednesday, May 17: noon - 2:00 PM, Fire Station 7 (2350 S. Barnett Shoals Road)
- Wednesday, May 17: 5:00-7:00 PM, Fire Station 2 (265 Cleveland Road)
- Saturday, May 20: noon - 2:00 PM, Athens-Clarke County Library (2025 Baxter Street)
The public input opportunities on the Potential Sites has concluded and the results can be found at https://www.accgov.com/DocumentCenter/View/92691/Judicial-Center-Online-Public-Input-Summary?bidId=
This project will provide funding for land acquisition, design, construction, equipping, and other expenses so as to provide expanded, modern space for community, governmental, and judicial functions currently provided at the existing historic Courthouse and annex.
Depending on costs and funding availability, the new building will provide space for community functions currently provided at the existing historic Courthouse and annex plus space for additional courts; alternative courts; separate holding space for juvenile detainees; separate travel spaces for visitors, inmates, and judicial staff; and other related functions such as determined to be necessary for an effective and modern judicial space.
After public input on the potential sites, the SPLOST Site Selection Committee will bring the recommended list of candidate sites to the Mayor and Commission for final consideration in fall 2023. Substantial completion of the facility is expected by late 2026.
The current budgeted construction cost for the facility is $44 million. Changes to the budgeted items are likely depending on the purchase price for the site and the design and construction process.
For additional questions, contact the SPLOST Program Management Office at 706-613-3025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work Session Presentation: September 15, 2022
|SPLOST 2020 Budget
|Estimated Annual Operating Impact
- Why build a new judicial center?
Due to inadequate safety conditions, size, and age concerns of the current courthouse facilities, and as set forth in multiple space needs reports performed for ACCGov, the current facility does not meet the needs of Athens-Clarke County nor the required Georgia Courts Security Guidelines. The new judicial center will provide much needed security and operational updates to improve the operations of ACCGov judicial functions.
- Why not renovate the existing courthouse?
The existing building at 325 East Washington Street was constructed in 1914 with the annex completed in 1989. Due to its age and size, the layout of the facility does not conform to current courthouse facility design practices. The goal is to renovate the existing courthouse at a later date to include other non-judicial functions of ACCGov.
- Will the historic courthouse be demolished?
No. The future use of the existing historic courthouse is still being evaluated. The long term goal is to consolidate several ACCGov departments that are currently spread out and housed in multiple buildings across the county in the existing courthouse.
- Where will the new judicial center be located?
A site for the new judicial center has not yet been selected. The project is in the first stage of the ACCGov Site Selection process now and is expected to continue until Fall 2023. The Site Selection Criteria will be used to score potential sites and ultimately select the best site for the development of the new judicial center. The site selection criteria and a survey for public input are currently posted at accgov.com/judicialcenter.
- How long will construction of the new judicial center take?
Once the site selection process is complete, the project will take approximately 36 months to complete design and construction. This timeframe includes the necessary public engagement meetings, Mayor and Commission work sessions, and Mayor and Commission approvals.
- What are the benefits to building a new judicial center vs. renovating the existing courthouse?
There are benefits to both a new and renovated judicial center. A new judicial center will provide state-of-the-art security and planning along with best practices for the efficient operation of the facility. Renovation of the existing courthouse would allow some of the judicial functions to remain in the existing downtown location. That being said, retrofitting the existing facility to align with modern security standards would likely be a challenge and some departments that are currently located in the courthouse would have to permanently move out.
- How much money will it cost to build?
The total project cost approved by the Mayor and Commission for the project is $76,432,000. $67,130,000 of this budget is reserved for the new judicial center project, with approximately $44 million of that budget going towards construction. $9,212,000 of the budget is planned to go towards the courthouse renovation. Please see the information included in the work session presentation posted at accgov.com/judicialcenter for a further breakdown of the budget.
- How can I get involved?
Public engagement is critical to constructing a new judicial center that will efficiently and effectively serve the public. Every phase of the process will include opportunities for public input. Online surveys, public forums, and other engagement strategies will be leveraged to maximize public and stakeholder input.
Below are some of the current ways you can get involved:
- Read over the project details at accgov.com/judicialcenter. Email email@example.com with any questions or comments.
- Complete the online survey to share feedback on the existing facility and proposed site selection criteria for the new facility.