Council agrees to pay off court services building early

The Bartholomew County Council on Tuesday agreed to allocate $2.2 million to pay off the county’s share of costs associated with the construction of a new downtown court services building, which is nearing completion.

The decision to pay off the balance early is expected to save the county $825,000 in interest payments over the next 15 years, said Bartholomew County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz. The money will come from the county’s general fund, officials said.

The new Bartholomew County Court Services building, located at the corner of First Street and Lafayette Avenue in downtown Columbus, became a joint city/county project after land swaps were tied into the negotiations.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission agreed to pay the first $1.5 million, while the county agreed to pick up the remaining $2 million.

As part of the deal, the county received the land on the south side of First Street, across from the county jail, for the new court services building and a small parking lot.

In return, the city will receive the county-owned block surrounded by Second, Franklin, Third and Lafayette streets. Plans are to eventually tear down the current court services building (the former Elks Club at 507 Third St.) and utilize the empty block for a future hotel and conference center.