Search underway for new Spartanburg Co. courthouse site

Spartanburg County Courthouse (WSPA)

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – In Spartanburg County, the search is on for a facility big enough to house hundreds of workers and all courthouse operations. And while county council is not hinting at possible sites, 7News looked into how many vacant sites would be suitable.

Here’s what we know, Spartanburg County Council wants a facility in the county big enough to house all courthouse employees and something that’s one level. Based on that we looked into how many options are truly viable.

Crews are only just now installing carpet and moving back in furniture after another round of mold cleanup at the Spartanburg County Courthouse.

Yesterday OSHA visited for more testing.

“They tested relative humidity, CO2 levels and air quality testing for mold,” said Clerk of Court Hope Blackley.

And even with all that, consultants with Justice Planning Associates are scouring the county for a place big enough to house its courthouse operations for the next four years.

The agency is tight lipped, but Andy Hayes the VP of Spencer/Hines Properties has a window into the possibilities.

“There’s no easy solution,” he said.

That’s because the county needs a 100,000 square foot facility which he says will likely have to be a vacant industrial site that will need to be renovated.

There are none within a one mile radius around the current courthouse, so we expanded further to a six mile radius.

“In my opinion I don’t think any of those options make economic sense,” said Hayes.

Many in that radius are sites with land, but no building yet. And the largest vacant office space, the old Mary Wright school building, is only half the size needed.

Further out, you’ll find prospects like the old Knights Apparel distribution facility on North Blackstock Road.

“That building I’m sure does not have HVAC, the electrical that would be required, think about how many additional restrooms you’re going to have, you’re creating an office building out of a shell,” said Hayes.

The computer program he used showed 42 vacant options in the county 100,000 square feet or over, but when you subtract the ones that are too old, expensive, or not yet built, Hayes says only a handful still remain.

And yet, given the health concerns of the current courthouse, he supports a move.

“In an effort to provide a safe working environment for our community, we’ve got to do it,” he said.

Justice Planning Associates says its been visiting sites with architects to get a clearer picture of which facility may work best. County Council says if that happens earlier than its next meeting, February 19th, it will call a special meeting to take a vote.

The cost of the move is still unclear. On the flip side, the county won’t have to pay for more mold clean up and can also streamline the building of a new judicial center.

Once a temporary site is chosen, remodeling means courthouse workers won’t be moving in, until close to 2019.