As council explores Government Center options, 1828 state law comes into play

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An act of the Georgia General Assembly 191 years ago has now come into play as the city of Columbus is considering what to do with the Government Center.

The city is exploring all of its options when it comes to the embattle Government Center tower downtown.

In doing that, the city attorney’s office dug out a state law enacted on Sept. 20, 18-28, that restricts future use of “Government Square.”

What was referred to as “Government Square” is on 10th Street is where the current Government Center sits. And that plot of dirt has been the seat of Columbus and Muscogee County government since the year the city was founded.

“Just to make sure that all options are open that we are considering in regards to the Government Center,” Mayor Skip Henderson said. “We’re not saying we are going to sell it, but that is an option and we are looking to see if anybody is interested. We wouldn’t be able to convey clear title unless we got this cleared up.”

The council is scheduled vote on a resolution Tuesday to ask the local General Assembly delegation to propose a change to state law that would give the local government the option of selling or leasing the building or land.

The state deeded the block, half to be used for city government and half for county government. In the early 1970s, the city and county consolidated.

There have been four courthouses on that site over the years. The first one burned. A second one was built in 1838, Third one, a majestic one many older folks remember, was built in 18-96 for about 63,000.

That building was demolished to make way for the current structure in the late 1960s. It cost $11 million to build the Government Center and its wings.

The talk of possibly moving the courthouse has led to a lot of opinions. The Columbus Bar Association was unanimous against moving the courthouse in a straw poll earlier this month. 

Early projects for the demolition of the current building and construction of a new courthouse and city administration building are north of $100 million.

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