With the Hotel Do De demolished, Centre County officials have a window to do exterior work on the Temple Court Building.
Commissioner Chris Exarchos said it’s an opportunity to do work behind Temple Court and the Courthouse Annex to create a connection between the buildings.
He said the time to get the work done is before developer Ara Kervandjian starts a project to build a workforce housing apartment building at the Do De and Garman Theatre sites. He has not announced a timetable for his project and is waiting for possible government funding.
“We need to get in there, get our stuff done and get out,” Exarchos said. “Once the adjacent lot develops fully, that’s going to be very difficult to do.”
Work also needs to be completed on the back of the Courthouse Annex, but workers were previously unable to access it.
If the county decides to connect the two buildings, Exarchos estimates they may need to go about 10 feet past the property line for the new construction. He said they will have talks with Kervandjian, but he doesn’t expect it to affect the developer’s project.
The county purchased the building in 2012 with a goal to remodel it into office space for some court administration needs, but there hasn’t been a sense of urgency to work on it. New legislation last year allowed the Board of Commissioners to keep the prothonotary and clerk of courts as one position, which saved office space.
Chairman Steve Dershem said there isn’t a rush to work on the inside of the building because that won’t be contingent on other construction projects or access.
Potential offices that could move to Temple Court would be probation, public defender, district attorney and juvenile probation, Commissioner Michael Pipe said.
The move also could create more space in the main courthouse to install one or two additional courtrooms, a move some of the judges have requested.
Pipe said other counties that have gone to the campus-style building system for the courts have been happy with the switch. It would allow people who have to walk between the Courthouse Annex and Temple Court to avoid walking outside through the snow.
Weather aside, connected buildings would streamline movement and be beneficial for witnesses or victims, Dershem added.
There are no cost estimates for the project because officials have not put it out to bid, Exarchos said.
“We need to get the drawings, put out the bids and that would determine the cost,” he said.
The county did not set aside any operational funding for the Temple Court project in the 2014 budget, but the commissioners did allocate $500,000 for capital projects.