Columbus council whittled down the options about what to do with the aging Government Center.
After a lengthy debate Tuesday afternoon, the council decided to study the option that includes tearing down all the existing structures on the downtown site and coming back with a new judicial building, city administrative building and parking garage on the site.
Council was clear after the voice vote, that this did not take other options including new buildings at other sites or renovation of the current facility off the table.
“I think it’s going to be a fluid situation for a while,” Mayor Skip Henderson told News 3 after the meeting. “But the key is just trying to hold down the cost by being very, very intentional about what areas we think are the best places for these buildings.”
Council has proposed funding a renovation of the existing building or a new courthouse and city administration building through a 10-year 1-percent sales tax that would have to be approved by voters in November 2021.
The previous council approved $1 million for planning during the process. The money for the study will come from those funds.
Who will conduct the study still must be determined by the council. A cost for the study has not been determined.
The move by the council was the first step to narrow four options consultants had presented earlier this year. There has been a discussion of moving the judicial functions and the administrative offices to buildings off the downtown site between 10th Street and Ninth Street.
At-large councilors John House and Judy Thomas say that before this process continues, there has to be a real cost established for the renovation of the current Government Center.
“I think it’s important to know what it would cost to try and stay in the building,” House said. “I think the cost is going to be high. I think there are some significant challenges with that building. But I do think that we just need to know.”
Former mayor and current Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters weighed in last week, favoring an option that would consider renovating the existing structure.
For now, Henderson said council must work the process.
“Many of those costs are going to be determined by what they uncover as they go through the process,” the mayor said. “So, as they begin to determine the sight allocation, excuse me the site location and space allocation and look at how the judicial consultant feels about it, what the design team does.”