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Fayette considers move to Justice Center

In the next couple of years, its conceivable that some Fayette County offices could migrate to the currently unfinished third floor of the county’s justice center.

Doing so would empty the county’s Stonewall Avenue government offices, which the county could then put on the market, eventually putting the downtown property back on the tax rolls, county officials were told last week.

The building has a current-day commercial value of $6 million, according to a commercial appraiser, said County Administrator Jack Krakeel.

To begin studying the matter, the county will need to conduct an evaluation of its existing space, Krakeel said.

Finishing the third floor of the courthouse will cost an estimated $3.5 million not including technology or office furnishings.

In the next two to three years, the fire and emergency services departments, along with the marshals department will be relocating to a new fire station headquarters near the justice center that is being funded in large part by a federal grant.

Also, the county has plans to relocate the health department to the current “old” fire station in downtown Fayetteville next to the sheriff’s office.

Of the remaining county offices, the one with the most foot traffic that will merit special consideration for its location is the tax commissioner’s office, Krakeel said.

As to whether the third floor will be needed for courtrooms in the future, Krakeel noted there has been a renewed interest in creating a separate judicial circuit for Fayette County, which would mean that the existing facility should be adequate for the short term and intermediate needs at least.

The renewed interest in that circuit split is coming from the outlying counties in the circuit, Krakeel noted.

Commissioner Steve Brown said he wants to look into expanding the county offices at the Stonewall complex once the various departments relocate to other facilities.

“If this is sold, my biggest fear is that this would turn into some kind of big box store and we’d end up creating more traffic problems than we have now,” Brown said.

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