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Construction of Johnson County’s new Justice Annex near downtown Olathe has received a green light to get under way.
On Thursday, July 26, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, in its role as the county’s Public Building Commission, approved a contract, totaling almost $5.6 million, with The Weitz Company, Lenexa, to renovate the former Dillons site at 588 East Santa Fe for future office space to ease an overcrowded Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Olathe. The vote was 6-1 with Commissioner Michael Ashcraft dissenting.
A year ago, the Board authorized $2 million from General Fund reserves for the purchase of site, including the building located on approximately five acres with 213 parking spaces. Dillon’s Grocery, which was constructed in 1977 and expanded in 1998, was closed in 2008.
Renovations to the building will begin in early August with completion by February 2013. The work will remodel the front lobby area to a two-story space allowing abundant daylight into the building. The rest of the building is one story. Eldorado Inc. of Kansas City, Mo. is the architectural firm.
After the construction dust has settled, the county plans to relocate the District Court Trustee’s Office and administration personnel of the Sheriff’s Office, both in the Courthouse, and the Court Services Office, currently located near 119th Street and Ridgeview Road, into the 47,580-square-foot Justice Annex.
The project is the first step of a Courthouse Interim Project as a part of the county’s FY 2012 Capital Improvement Plan. The total cost for the project is $12,166,700 and includes remodeling portions of the existing Courthouse.
Joe Waters, director of the Facilities Department, said the Justice Annex is “an interim solution to allow for repurposing of space” at the Courthouse and to relocate the Court Services operation to provide more interview rooms and parking for clients.
“This interim plan will improve the operations for several key components in the criminal justice system which is under growing pressure, now and in the future, due to increasing case loads,” he said.
The Court Services Department works directly with District Courts, providing supervision and investigations for the criminal courts along with mediation and evaluations for the civil courts. The department, with offices at 18505 West 119th Street, Olathe, has a daily client population of approximately 3,500 being served by more than 80 employees through its Adult, Juvenile, and Domestic Relations Services units.
The District Court Trustee’s Office, located on the fourth floor of the Courthouse with a staff of about 40 employees, monitors more than 17,000 active cases annually and collects and distributes more than $90 million in court-ordered support payments each year.
The remaining funding (approximately $4 million) in the proposed Courthouse Interim Project will be used to renovate the fourth floor space being vacated by the District Court Trustee’s Office and other Courthouse space for future use by the District Attorney’s Office and District Courts. That work will get under way in 2013 after the Justice Annex opens.
For more information, contact Joe Waters, director of the Johnson County Facilities Department, at (913) 715-1105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.