Renovate or Rebuild? Madison County Commission takes steps to make a decision on courthouse future

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- The Madison County Courthouse dates back to the 1960's. Those who use the building regularly say it is in desperate need of a facelift. The county commission is now faced with the options of either tearing it down and building a new courthouse or renovating the existing one.

On Monday, they voted to approve an assessment of the courthouse.

"This courthouse is actually older now than the courthouse that was torn down was when it was torn down," said Phil Riddick, Madison County Commissioner for district five.

Commissioner Riddick said the commission prefers the courthouse stays in place, but before they do anything they need to know what they're dealing with.

"We just need some baseline for what the cost is going to be. Anytime you make a renovate versus build new decision, then you need to know what the cost of each are," he explained.

Commissioner Riddick said they are looking at building a remote services center they could move about 140 jobs to.

"The criteria would be somewhere central to the county, lots of parking, and easily accessible and easy to get to," he said.

This, Riddick explained, would create some much-needed space in the courthouse, "We kind of toyed with the idea, 'What if we had some kind of retail?' like little shops, or boutiques, or coffee shops. A place to get a sandwich, or something around the edge of it."

He said if the services center moves forward, they could get started as soon as next year, but the future of the courthouse and what happens with the services center, go hand in hand.

"We're not going to make a decision about what renovation we do to the courthouse until we decide whether or not we move functions out of the courthouse, and which of those functions it will be," said Riddick.

The assessment will cost the county $16,000. An architecture firm will conduct the assessment to help determine how much renovations will cost, and how the project would be prioritized.