Comal County nearing finish of downtown renovations | Neighborhood Alert

Two decades ago, Comal County began planning the growth that everyone knew was coming.

Then the county had roughly 78,000 residents and 10 years later 108,472 residents – that same year, voters turned down a $ 36 million justice center and additional downtown office space.

Now that the county has more than 150,000 residents, downtown facilities are nearing the end of a $ 32.5 million facelift to include new offices, three district courts, and five district courts.

“It’s really something to see because we’ve been talking about it for so long,” said District Judge Sherman Krause. “We finally see everything (come to fruition).”

Comal County’s civil and criminal charges, which had already increased prior to COVID-19, will be set after the $ 14.7 million renovation of the Landa building and the annex renovation of $ 11.4 million are completed. USD slacken. Both will house a third court and a new 466th judicial district upon completion of renovations in July 2021.

SpawGlass Contractors, which has completed the renovation of the Landa building and a $ 2.4 million holding facility for offenders awaiting trial, is nearing completion of the annex.

Courthouse outbuilding construction

On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, workers will pick up the trash from the construction site at the Comal County courthouse. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald Newspaper

“The work is going pretty well for us,” said Krause. “SpawGlass Contractors (in charge of construction) is doing what they promised and doing it very well.”

In 2017, commissioners approved up to $ 18 million in bonds to renovate the two buildings and have since expanded both projects to add more courtrooms, security, and the inmate detention area.

“We have long heard – especially from some of our judges – that we could forward cases and get people out of prison faster if we had more courtrooms – not just for local cases, but also for child protection services and child support cases,” said Krause then.

“When it comes to spending money, we spend it on courtrooms and prison facilities – for which we as the governing body are responsible – and the need is there.”

The annex will be largely completed by mid-July, said county engineer Tom Hornseth. When construction began last fall, all district offices and courtrooms were emptied. Some were moved to the Landa Building and others to the New Braunfels Meetinghouse on Castell Avenue.

Courthouse outbuilding construction

Workers move their supplies as renovations take place at the Comal County’s courthouse on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. MIKALA COMPTON | Herald Newspaper

The first floor of the annex houses the district clerks’ offices and public records, the second floor houses the auditor, treasurer and information technology offices, and the third floor houses the district courtrooms and the district clerk’s offices.

The Landa building added 62,444 square feet of floor space for more county records, with courtrooms and jury rooms on the first floor and prosecutor and court services offices on the second floor.

A two-story sky bridge connects the Landa and Annex buildings as well as the holding facility. It has a large storage area, smaller storage cells and bathrooms, and separate pairs of elevators for the public and MPs who escort inmates to courtrooms on the third floor of the annex building.

The county agreed to expand the scope of both projects to take advantage of previously unused space, which over time led to changes. Some facets planned for both of the aging buildings did not fit, resulting in additional, but not entirely unexpected, costs.

The renovation of both buildings increased the cost by $ 1.75 million. Changes added to previous plans for security, generators, elevators, heating / air conditioning, audio / video, electrical wiring, drywall and framing, interior and exterior windows and doors, and exterior brick restoration.

Recent interior and exterior changes increased the cost of the annex to $ 11.930 million, and the winter storm postponed the major completion from July 2-12 – still on schedule.

“There were a lot of unknowns and a lot of things happened – they always do when you convert an existing building,” Hornseth said a few months ago. “But the outbuilding hadn’t been completely demolished like the Landa building when we started this project.

“We change some things after the fact and there have been some design issues that could and should have possibly been identified.”

In 2019, commissioners transferred approximately $ 2.219 million in departmental salaries and savings from this year’s budget to ongoing capital projects and added an additional $ 1,525,250 from unallocated funds to the 2020 budget in November.

The savings, budget transfers, and remaining funds from the $ 76 million bond voters approved for the new prison in 2015 will go into the original second half of that project – the $ 12.4 million renovation of the sheriff’s offices that also managed by SpawGlass.

Upon receiving planning permission from the City of New Braunfels, CCSO’s Fellers Law Enforcement Center will be incorporated into the old county jail at the same location on West San Antonio Street between Interstate 35 and Loop 337.

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