The courthouse addition would replace the bank building with a state-of-the-art three-story building that will also function as the new entrance for the entire courthouse complex, which consists of the original courthouse built in the 1800s, the annex built in the late 1970s and the new building.
County commissioner John Christy said Tuesday the county is in ongoing negotiations with PNC to buy the property. He said eminent domain is always an option, one the county would use as a “last resort.”
Adding to the urgency for more space is the arrival of a newly created judgeship in January, bringing the total number of judges in the old courthouse to seven. Even with the new judge, Daniel Higgins, the courthouse will still be shorthanded, according to President Judge Margherita Worthington, who has said eight judges are needed to handle the caseload.
Final details on the plan will be worked out over the next year, with final approval expected late next year, Christy said. “We’ve committed already.”
Christy said space studies have been completed and the architect, CGL of New York City, and the construction manager, William H. Lane of Binghamton, N.Y., have been selected.
CGL bills itself as experts in courtroom design and its website states it is the maintenance manager for nearly 9 million square feet of justice facilities in the country.
The new building would permanently change the landscape of the 600 block of Sarah Street, replacing the small, low slung bank branch and its parking lot with a modern, substantial structure in a neighborhood of mostly 100-plus year old, two-story homes.
Christy said the plans are taking into account the historic nature of the neighborhood.