State OK’s HON Site

Courthouse Move Clears Hurdle

WINNSBORO – When Fairfield County Council’s ad hoc committee, tasked with securing a temporary site for the County Courthouse, met last month, all options for the relocation appeared both labor intensive and expensive. But as that meeting wound down on Feb. 20, the suggestion came to the floor that another option might be available. Monday night, Milton Pope, Interim County Administrator, told Council that that option – to move into the HON Building – was indeed on the table.

The Fairfield County Courthouse is in desperate need of renovations, Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson told the committee last month. An electrical overhaul is necessary to support updated technology; structural defects have to be addressed on the historic building; and mold and mildew is an ongoing concern – the culprit: an outdated HVAC system that will need to be entirely replaced, duct work and all. The entire process will take approximately one year, and while the work is being done, the offices within the courthouse will have to find a temporary home. That means moving more than 9,340 square feet of offices, including the offices of the Clerk of Court, the Tax Assessor, the Auditor, the Tax Collector, the Treasurer, the Public Defender and the court room and its associated offices.

After contracting with the consulting firm of Mead & Hunt, Inc. of Lexington for $15,575 last fall, the firm offered up three options for the move: the former Food Lion grocery store and the adjacent former location of the Family Dollar at 133 Highway 321 Bypass S., and the former Elite facility at 900 9th St. in Winnsboro. The Food Lion/Family Dollar option totaled some 13,800 square feet, with a building cost of $866,708 and an upfitting cost of more than $1 million. The Elite facility weighed in at 25,000 square feet and came with a price tag of $822,708 for the building and $931,818 for the upfit. While Mead & Hunt identified mold and water issues, as well as hazardous materials and possible asbestos at the site, they ultimately recommended Elite as the best possible option.

A third option to rent modular units from a Charlotte company for between $13,000 and $37,000 each was rejected.

As the Feb. 20 meeting drew to a close, Pope and Council Chairman David Ferguson (District 5) suggested the HON Building, located on Highway 321 N. near Midlands Tech. The County currently owns the building, but has leased out most of it to the S.C. State Emergency Preparedness Office (EPO).

Monday night, Pope told Council that the EPO had given their consent to the County for the move. While the costs associated with that move were not available at press time, Pope said the HON Building would require far less upfitting than either of the prior options and that the building’s square footage will allow for the entire courthouse and its functions, including actually holding court.

“It really is a very workable space that we could use there,” Pope said, “assuming Council continues to support the move forward.”

The proposal to move into the HON Building will now go back to committee for consideration, Pope said.

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