Wake Justice Center project will go forward
Wake County commissioners on Monday voted unanimously to move forward with plans to build an expansion to the county courthouse, despite the tough economic times.Posted — Updated
"We have some challenges with the economy, but because of the low interest rates on bonds, we can justify moving ahead with it," County Commissioner Paul Coble said. "We need to because of the overcrowding we have in the courthouse."
Officials say the 11-story, estimated $210 million Wake County Justice Center is needed to help keep pace with the rapid population growth and will also help meet growing safety needs.
The current courthouse, which sits between Salisbury and Fayetteville streets in downtown Raleigh, has 22 courtrooms to handle more than 200,000 cases filed every year and the approximately 5,000 people who use the facility on a daily basis.
The new facility, would sit across the street at the intersections of Martin, McDowell and Salisbury streets, will house more facilities and serve the county's needs for the next 30 to 50 years, officials said. Construction could be complete as early as 2013.
Some commissioners, however, did express concern over construction for the facility.
"I think we have to be very careful in spending taxpayers' dollars for wants when we are in the middle of the worst economic downturn in 30 years," Commissioner Stan Norwalk said.
Norwalk acknowledges the courthouse need but doesn't think the other county offices in the building are necessary on such expensive real estate.
"We have no choice, at this point, but to go ahead," he said. "What I'm saying is that I want a long-range plan that will tell us in the future how we can reduce our total capital needs."
Coble said the space is needed and that the plan won't result in a tax increase.
"We can certainly do it with the financial model that we have in place," Coble said.
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