COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Columbus Council and city officials continue to grapple with building a new courthouse amid rising construction costs.
That discussion was front and center during Tuesday’s lengthy council meeting.
Voters approved the new courthouse. It has been determined it will be built on the existing Government Center site.
Back in 2021 Columbus voters approved a special sales tax to build a new courthouse to replace the current Government Center.
Over the last two years, construction costs have escalated. The design team put together by the city is saying the $185 million available is not enough to cover the project.
The building will house Superior Court, State Court, Juvenile Court, Probate Court, Municipal Court and most of the offices and services associated with those courts.
The current revised plan is to build a new tower along 10th Street in front of the Springer Opera House. The two current Government Center wings will be incorporated into the project to cut costs.
Here was an exchange between Councilor Charmain Crabb and Douglas Kleppin, a principal with SLAM Studio. She wanted to know if they had reconsidered the decision to tear down the Government Center.
Crabb: “Have you gone back one step further to see if instead of building a new tower, we could redo the old tower? And does that save money because we don’t have to buy as much materials? I mean, I know we didn’t before, but did we look at that again under these circumstances?”
Kleppin: “We had done that analysis initially. We did not go back to at the end of this. And in our minds we were achieving the SPLOST goals with this new purpose-built court building and retaining the wings and the parking deck.”
There were no decisions made today. Mayor Skip Henderson said the design team will make those decisions in the coming weeks and come back to Council.
The mayor said that Columbus Council would vote on the final plans from the design team.
The Columbus Council meeting lasted about seven hours, the final portion of it was in executive session.
The reasons given for the closed session were litigation, potential litigation, and personnel.
Two weeks ago, the council voted to hire Atlanta law firm Troutman Pepper to assist the internal auditor in an ongoing audit of the city’s finance department.
Troutman Pepper partner Charles Peeler was in the council chambers this afternoon near the end of the meeting.
Peeler declined to comment on the audit into the Finance Department.