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Local News

An economic decision – old courthouse's days are numbered

Will County Board recommends tearing down current courthouse

The Will County Board voted Thursday to approve a resolution in support of demolishing the current Will County Courthouse once the new facility is completely built and county personnel have moved out.

In the past few years, county officials have discussed what to do with the current building when the new courthouse is finished in late 2020.

The board discussed possibly converting the courthouse for some other use, such as more county office space, but ultimately the consensus appears to be that demolishing it would make the most sense.

“Both options were looked at, and it was kind of an economic decision,” said Dave Tkac, deputy chief of staff for the Will County Executive.

The board’s resolution explains members heard “expert testimony” from Wright and Company, the architect being used for the new courthouse, which concluded repurposing and renovating the existing courthouse wasn’t in the county’s best interest. It goes on to say that renovating the existing building “would be difficult, costly and illogical, given ... estimated cost of building renovations versus estimated cost of new construction.”

Tkac said the estimated cost of renovating the courthouse would be upward of $40 million.

He also said that outside the actual structure, every other system in the courthouse would have to be replaced.

“The building is old,” Tkac said. “The systems are aging.”

The actual demolition of the existing building would cost about $1.5 million to $2 million, Tkac said. County board minority leader Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, said that when the county studied the issue, it found that renovating the existing courthouse would cost more than it would to tear it down and build a new one.

“There was no real reason that made it a positive to keep that building,” Fricilone said.

As for what would replace the existing courthouse once its torn down, county officials said that decision will be made sometime in the future.

“It’s too early for that,” Speaker Denise Winfrey said.

However, officials agree that it is valuable space, which could be useful down the road. Fricilone said he’d like to see that area become a green space.

“We know at some point the county will need some additional land to maybe build some other building,” Fricilone said.

Officials said the bidding process to hire a company to demolish the building won’t happen until closer to the end of 2020. Tkac said the building itself won’t be demolished until mid-2021 at the earliest.

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