South Carolina Courthouse Project Back on Track

By Lisa Kopochinski

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, South Carolina—It has been nearly two years since the new courthouse and city-county government building project in Spartanburg County, South Carolina was given the green light after voters approved a temporary penny sales tax increase in 2017 to pay for it.

County Administrator Cole Alverson said the penny tax was expected to generate $37.4 million in its first year, but that figure was surpassed after $44.5 million was collected.

“That’s a good place to start with,” Alverson told the Spartanburg-Herald Journal in June. “There have been some issues, as is typical with a construction project this size.”

The $217 million project is now back on track to be completed within five years. The new judicial center is part of this project. The demolition of the old courthouse, which was built in 1957, is the first part of the project.

The original timeframe for the project showed the courthouse design being completed by early 2020, followed by two years of construction at the site of the 62-year-old courthouse, which is located between Magnolia Street and Daniel Morgan Avenue.

The Emergency Operations Center remains on track for occupancy by mid-2021. The design for the municipal court/police building is also underway and should be completed by early 2021.

The county hired project manager Joe Lauer of Clerestory Projects Group Inc. of Spartanburg (which provides construction and contracting services) to oversee the design and construction of the new judicial center, emergency operations center, municipal court/police building, as well as two parking garages and a joint city hall-county government complex.

Lauer is working with Mike Thomas of Justice Planning Associates of Columbia, South Carolina to design the judicial center, and Ron Smith of McMillan, Pazdan Smith Architecture of Spartanburg.

Construction of the 180,000-square-foot city/county government center—on the not-yet-chosen site—will start in the fall of 2020 and take approximately two years.

Construction of the six-story, 770-space parking garage on Library Street is expected to take place from spring 2021 to spring 2023.

In a statement last month, County Councilman David Britt said that with the departures last year of County Administrator Katherine O’Neill and Council Chairman Jeff Horton, there was a brief void in leadership to oversee the project until Administrator Alverson and Council Chairman Manning Lynch got up to speed.

“Thanks to their leadership, we’ve got this back on track now,” said Britt. “They saw the need to wrap our arms around this. We will deliver on budget and on schedule. This isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.”