The overhaul of the old federal courthouse building to serve as the new state attorney's office begins this week. The 16-month project is expected to cost about $26 million and bring the prosecutors' offices across the street from the Duval County Courthouse rather the old City Hall Annex on Bay Street -- nearly a mile away.
The rehabilitation of the five-story building on West Monroe Street was originally proposed to occur a couple of years ago so the state attorney's office would move near the new Duval County Courthouse when it opened last year. The building was gutted, but a lack of funding put the project on hold.
"The building is fine, structurally sound," said Tom Goldsbury, of the city's Planning and Development Department. "We have to cut some holes in it for the new stairwells to meet code. There are beams that have to be beefed up and things like that. There are no structural problems."
Before the new courthouse even opened, Channel 4 documented the problems inside the building, even counted more than 50 broken windows, which allowed rain to get inside.
"I go in it all the time to keep up on it," Goldsbury said. "Yes, there are windows broken out and water going in, but there is nothing in there but concrete."
To contain costs, only part of the building constructed in 1933 will be renovated at this time, but the city did fund a third-floor secure walkover connecting the office with the courthouse after State Attorney Angela Corey insisted it was needed for security.
"Us not being able to move into our new building has been a great impact," Corey said Monday. "The travel time, the distance, you know, having victims having to go to two different places to prepare, it's been difficult, and it's been over a year now that we've been in the new courthouse, so we're very happy that construction has started."
"We intend to stay very involved with the city to make sure that they stay on schedule and on budget, and to the extent that we can do anything to help with those two aspects of this project, then we intend to fully cooperate," Corey added.