Council to consider $3.6 million court services building

Columbus City Council will be asked tonight to approve the construction of a new Bartholomew County Court Services Building at a cost of just over $3.6 million dollars.

The project is one of the first concrete steps of a land swap between the city of Columbus and Bartholomew County governments that will eventually lead to space for a new hotel and conference center between Second and Third Streets downtown. The county is giving up the parking lot across Second Street from the jail, which also contains the existing court services building.

In return, the city has acquired the former Eynon Law Office property behind the jail on First Street. And the city will be funding and constructing the replacement building. The city will be paying the first $1.5 million for the project directly, with the rest of the cost to be financed over 15 years at a 3 percent interest rate. The county will then pay for that through a lease-purchase arrangement.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission has already approved the construction of the building, with the money to come from property taxes generated in the downtown tax increment financing district. But the commission can not approve more than half a million dollars in funding without the approval of City Council.

City Council meets at 6 p.m. tonight.