Maury County Courthouse

The historic Maury County courthouse, built in 1905.

The Maury County Building Committee will recommend the demolition of the former Daily Herald building and subsequent construction of a two-story, 55,000-square foot, all-encompassing judicial center to the County Commission at its next meeting.

Initially, the building and 3.17 acres were purchased for $1.8 million with a buildout cost of $10 million. The new construction project is estimated to cost nearly $30 million but was not presented as an actual cost number.

Committee Chairman Eric Previti said this project is going to allow the county to move all of the courtrooms, support staff, grand jury and holding areas to a new building, leaving the historic courthouse empty for the time being.

Ideas for use of the courthouse have been mentioned but bringing the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act would cost “millions and millions of dollars,” Previti said.

“This is not just about ADA compliance. This is also about getting everybody into one building rather than transporting people from one building to another,” he said. “Everybody we talked to has asked us to get everyone into one building.”

Two options were presented by the developer, Hewlett Spencer, for two different-sized buildings. The other option was a 42,000-square foot building that would not include juvenile courts or a grand jury room, which had an estimated cost of more than $23 million.

Recently, the commission announced a building project at the Battle Creek school campus would cost more than the original construction price. Despite the recent increase in construction costs, the committee was not concerned as it passed 6-0.

“Hewlett Spencer is very good about giving conservative estimates, so their costs usually come in lower than what they project,” Previti said. “This is a way to prepare for the future and the growth we are seeing.”

The historic courthouse was built in 1905 but has been outdated for some time, according to Previti.

“It was built for the population of Maury County in 1905,” he said. “We have defendants and witnesses crossing each other in the hallways, riding the elevator together. Lawyers are conferring with their clients in stairwells.

“It’s time for a better option.”

Budget committee chair Scott Sumners said he is focused on the budget and was hoping to see a building of around 50,000 square feet for a cost of about $25 million. But he said he understands making sure the building is adequate is the most important factor.

“We want to make sure this is done right so the next commission or the commission after that doesn’t have to fool with this anymore, but we don’t want to break the bank,” he said.

A large portion of the funding for what is being referred to once again as the Maury County Judicial Center will come from American Rescue Plan Act funds, which was signed into law in 2021, and is intended to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including the public health and economic impacts.

The remainder of the funding will come from litigation funds, but the bonds will be over a longer period of time than originally anticipated. Previti said additional tax dollars would not be necessary to fund the building.

Chris Yow has served as the managing editor for the Trussville (Ala.) Tribune and, most recently, the Spring Hill Advertiser News. He has worked as a sports editor and has covered high school sports in different capacities for 18 years.

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