Remodeling is in full swing at the La Plata County Courthouse to make way for district and federal courtrooms and office space.
Work began in late February on the county-owned building at 1060 East Second Ave. By April 5, first-floor demolition was complete, and crews were preparing to install utilities.
The $5 million remodel covers just under 16,000 square feet of the 70,000-square-foot building and includes heating and cooling and sprinkler system upgrades.
“It’s a cut-and-dry remodel,” county General Services Director Mark McKibben said. “From a public safety standpoint, it will be a lot safer, because we’ll have a fully-sprinkled building.”
In mid-April, FCI Constructors will work on an ADA-accessible entryway that will allow more standing room and additional security. This weekend, a large conifer tree will be removed and donated to the Durango Daybreak Rotary Club’s firewood project, and a deciduous tree will be relocated to make room for the 879-square-foot entrance on East Second Avenue.
A certificate of occupancy is expected by January 2017.
La Plata County is required to provide space for the 6th Judicial District. The reconfigured building also will bring the U.S. District Court and U.S. Probation and Marshal’s offices to downtown Durango.
Dave Pribble, project superintendent with FCI Constructors, said the arrangement is a prototype.
After years of planning, La Plata County and the U.S. General Services Administration announced an agreement in March 2015 to move federal district courts into the county courthouse from its offices in Bodo Industrial Park. County officials have said the presence of federal courts will give the downtown area an economic boost.
In February, La Plata County commissioners unanimously approved up to $5 million for the courthouse project. A $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs will offset some of the cost.
General Services pays about $237,000 annually to rent about 6,500 square feet for the federal courtroom and related offices under a 10-year lease.
The building once housed county administration, the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office and jail, said Assistant County Manager Joanne Spina, who worked in the court system in the 1980s. As staff grew over time, county personnel dispersed into other offices, including the county administrative building at 1101 East Second Ave.
Former county assessor offices on the northeastern side, which have been vacant for about a year, will become a federal courtroom, jury room and judges’ chambers.
A central portion of the building will be used for county attorneys’ offices.
“One thing we want is to move the county attorney offices out of leased space in the Crossroads building and into county-owned property,” McKibben said.
Another central part of the building will be converted to U.S. probation offices.
Where county administrative and finance offices formerly occupied the building’s south side, there will be 6th Judicial District judges’ chambers and space for the U.S. Marshal.
County commissioners’ former meeting space, known as The Anasazi Room, will become a district courtroom.