New uses for old courthouse

Published: Jul. 29, 2013 at 8:42 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 13, 2013 at 3:39 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Sometime next year, the old Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson will be vacated.

The County Recorder, Assessor and Justice Courts are moving to a new courthouse on North Stone.

What to do with the old courthouse, built in 1929 by famed Tucson architect Roy Place, is now being debated.

It won't be torn down or demolished. It's on the Register of Historic Places and is a Tucson icon. It's prominently displayed on all county correspondence.

It's "the most recognized building in Pima County," according to Reid Spaulding, the Facilities Manager for Pima County.

Even though the courthouse won't be vacant for at least a year, there's a lot of interest from the community as to how it should be preserved..

Probably, the most interested in county administration.

Plans are in the works to turn the second floor into offices for the five county supervisors and county administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

Cost for that could run as high as $20 million for renovations.

Part of the reason for the high cost may be security. The old buildings were not built with today's security needs of government offices.

The third floor may be home to the County Clerk.

The building, including the basement, contains about 60,000 square feet leaving more than enough room for other projects.

One of those may be a Tucson Museum of Art Project for a western art museum. It's vying for space on the bond election planned for Pima County in 2014.

Another may be the permanent memorial for the January 8, 2011 shootings on North Oracle which left six people dead and Congressman Gabrielle Giffords wounded.

The Jan8 Foundation has been looking for a permanent site for the memorial and according to Spaulding, "this is a perfect fit."

It man also appear on the bond ballot with a $10 million price tag.

Although predictions are it may come in way under that.

It's still in the conceptual stage but it's believed the plans may include both an inside and outside component to the memorial.

"What a better place to recognize that event that at probably the most recognized building in the county," Spaulding says.

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