Future of Richland County Courthouse Up In the Air

Local leaders discuss the need for a new county courthouse

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Richland County and city of Columbia leaders sat down today to talk about the possibility of jointly creating a new courthouse and joint municipal building. 

"The existing courthouse is woefully outdated," said Greg Pearce, the chairman of the Richland County courthouse committee.

Pearce says the county's courthouse building is just not cutting it anymore.

"I think we've pretty much run out of space, we've moved everybody that we can possibly move out of the building," Pearce said.
 
Pearce says when the courthouse was built almost 40 years ago it was not with modern day needs in mind.
 
"Where do people park," Pearce asked. "It was built originally with so many parking spaces, so just too many problems to overcome."
 
Mayor Steve Benjamin notes that city's buildings are not working for them either.
 
"Currently, those employees are spread out over half a dozen different buildings across downtown," Mayor Benjamin said.
 
So county and city officials met at city hall to talk about the possibility of joining forces to create a new courthouse and joint municipal building.
 
"I think it's even more important or as important to have this discussion together," Major Benjamin said.
 
"This was a very informal, open discussion with no commitments to be  made, no sites really being discussed," Pearce said.
 
Both sides agreed that renovating the current county courthouse was not an option.
 
"I think the challenges there are not just size, but the building is older and has some significant deferred maintenance issues," Mayor Benjamin said.
 
However, the goal is for everyone to remain downtown, preferably on Main Street. Currently, both sides are unsure about how and where this will happen.
 
"The discussions are preliminary, but I think there's some real promise here," Mayor Benjamin said.
 
"What I'm coming away with is enthusiasm on both sides," Pearce said, "the city and the county looking very actively to work together on a project that could benefit everybody."
 
The city knows that they will need 300,000 square feet to accommodate the city employees. The county still needs to do an assessment on their exact needs, however, their last study put the project at $90 million dollars. Pearce says that assessment was done over five years ago and will need to be updated.
 


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