Lee County is one step closer to expanding its justice center for the first time since it opened in the 1980's.
The Lee County Justice Center opened in 1984. Other than a jail consolidation project nearly ten years ago, it is the same as it was in the 80s. Lee County Administrator Roger Rendleman says they first looked at expanding the justice center in 2004.
"The first thing that was evident is that the circuit clerk and district attorney's were out of space," said Rendleman. "We went ahead and master planned not only giving them more space, but adding courtrooms and so forth because Lee County is also in need of another judgeship."
The planning was 90% finished when the economy fell off around 2008.
Discussions to renovate the Justice Center in Lee County have been going on for years. When the economy hit some rough patches a few years ago, the plans stalled.
The current plans show the justice center expanding towards Gateway Drive. The original estimate for the project was $8 million.
"We received five bids," Rendleman said. "Out of those, four were under $8 million. We are right in that range that we want to be. We feel very confident moving forward with the project."
The lowest bid is $7.3 million. The city will examine that plan and commissioners will choose a bid within the next two months. On Monday, commissioners approved a company to underwrite the bonds to finance the project.
"It's a fully bonded project," Rendleman said. "So, if something does happen with the contractor, the bonding company has to step in and take care of it. So, that way the taxpayer is protected on this project."
Some of the project drawings date back to 2010. You could see dirt being turned at the justice center around October this year.
Rendleman says the expansion on the justice center will probably be complete either late next year or early in 2015.
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