County considers putting new courthouse next to Government Center

This lot next to the Forsyth County Government Center is being considered as a potential site for a new courthouse.

County considers putting new courthouse next to Government Center
May 11
06:00 2017



County commissioners are looking into purchasing a lot next to the Forsyth County Government Center as a possible site for a new courthouse.

The commissioners approved an agreement to purchase the property, subject to due diligence and other conditions, during its Monday, May 8, meeting. The property, located at 175 N. Chestnut St., costs $850,000 if bought whole or $700,000 if its purchased with a small encroachment from a parking lot next door.

Two possibilities were presented to commissioners for a new courthouse on the property during a briefing last week by Larry Robbs of Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce Architects, PA. One option has a new nine-story county courthouse on the new site with a parking deck built across the street at the corner of North Chestnut and Second streets. Its estimated cost is nearly $146 million. That’s slightly more than a plan that would’ve put the new courthouse on the Second Street site for $145 million.

The second option is cheaper courthouse, for$126 million, with a five-story courthouse with offices in a separate four-story building across the street at the Second Street site with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two. It would also have a parking deck on the other side of the neighboring Wells Fargo parking deck. Because office buildings are cheaper to build than courthouses, putting the offices in their own building would save $19 million.

Both plans involve running a tunnel from the county jail to the courthouse through the Government Center that would be segregated and completely inaccessible from the rest of that build-ing.

The aging Hall of Justice has been in need of replacement or renovation for many years and the Forsyth County Bar Association has been advocating for a new courthouse. It’s been a project that’s stalled as some commissioners have been reluctant to take on the debt to pay for it. Unfortunately, the project has gotten more expensive as construction costs go up and even just renovating the courthouse would now cost $112 million.

“I think it needs to be done, the sooner the better,” said Plyler about taking action on the courthouse.

The new options will be reviewed by a work-group on potential courthouse plans and may go back to commissioners for a vote this summer.

During Monday’s public comment session, Winston-Salem Urban League President James Perry described the importance of a program where his organization educates low-income communities about mental health. The program is funded by a $25,000 grant from the county’s budget allocation to Cardinal Innovations Healthcare. County staff recommended that the grant be cut in the upcoming budget.

Also during Monday’s meeting, the commissioners:

*Approved an $89,000 contract to Small Creatures Production, LLC to improve the Sheriff’s Office’s marketing and branding. It will also coordinate a recruitment advertising campaign.

*Authorized staff to apply for a $141,040 Kate B. B. Reynolds grant for a paid Youth Urban Gardening Internship for 10 high school students in northeast Winston-Salem.

*Approved a $428,000 contract to Gensler Architecture, Design & Planning, P.C. for architectural and engineering services for the new Kaleideum museum that’ll be built downtown on the site of the old Sheriff’s Office building.

*Approved a $110,00 contract with Stimmel Associates, P.A. for architectural and engineering services for the Idol’s Road business park being developed near Tanglewood Park.

*Authorized a new lease between Forsyth County and Horizons Residential Care Center, reducing its campus in Rural Hall from 26 acres to nine acres at the organization’s request.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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