By Kathie Harris, posted May 18, 2023 on BizFayetteville.com
Silling Architects and Metcon Buildings and Infrastructure expect to break ground this summer on the new Hoke County courthouse, a project demonstrating what local government can accomplish when it collaborates with state legislators to meet a community need.
The new three-story building will sit on the empty lot between Edinborough Avenue and East Elwood Avenue on Main Street. The design anchors the county’s civic footprint with the surrounding jailhouse and other county administrative and judicial buildings.
The courthouse project’s current projected cost is $33.5 million, $31 million of which the state awarded through a grant last year. Hoke
County Commissioner Harry Southerland said the remaining funds are in the county budget. A second project, a connecting administration building, has $8 million of county funds assigned based on current estimates.
The county is keeping $5 million in reserve for contingencies.
“We want you to see where your money’s going,” Hoke County Commissioner Harry Southerland said, referencing taxpayers. “You’ll see the downtown landscape change for the future and your tax dollars at work, thanks to all the partners in this
The courthouse design features a 51,000-square-foot building with a connecting walkway to the jailhouse on the first floor. The first floor will also house the clerk of courts office, clerk’s hearing room, and a jury assembly room which will also act as a traffic court.
The second floor includes two courtrooms, the public defender’s office, and jury deliberation rooms. The third floor consists of two court-
rooms, judges’ offices, and defendant holding spaces. There is also a small area for the district attorney to work onsite when needed.
The principal architect, Tom Potts of Silling, said the security of the building is its top feature, especially compared to the historic courthouse.
“It’s a more secure courthouse for the public, staff, and in-custody defendants,” Potts said. “Our culture has changed; the population is bigger. We
need bigger spaces and more organized circulation.”
The building’s technological accommodations are better suited to modern litigation and evidence presentation, and the building itself is more energy sustainable. Video conferencing will be more accessible, and the end goal is for trials to be more effective, according to Potts.
The administration building, designed by Silling and constructed by MSquare Construction, will add 19,000 square feet of workspace for
the county seat. Construction on the courthouse will begin first, with the completion of both projects aimed at the summer of 2025.
The administration building will accommodate the county tax collector and assessor, human resources, finance and IT departments for the county. A new county commissioners’ boardroom is included, along with more administrative offices for future
growth. The design includes a public promenade to link the historic courthouse to the new buildings. The current courthouse, designed by Milburn, Heister & Company, was built in 1911. The county outgrew the space years ago, and in 2019 the legal overload was made worse when Hoke and Moore Counties were combined into one judicial district. According to Commissioner Southerland, trials that should have taken a month are backlogged by several months because of too few courtrooms. In 2019, a Hoke County grand
jury report found numerous issues, including outdated spaces and unsafe conditions. Moore and Hoke Counties Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James Webb requested a safety report from the court system’s safety and continuity of operations manager. That report recommended employees leave the building.
“The need for a new courthouse was immediate,” Webb said. “Then Covid hit.”
Webb turned the issue of building a new courthouse over to the county commission. In 2022, commissioners met with District 48 Representative Garland Pierce, who was receptive to the need for funding for a new courthouse. Further talks with State Senators Ben Clark and Danny Britt resulted in more bipartisan financial support, resulting in the 2022 grant. Parking space is still being negotiated, with ideas to modify street parking and make alterations to the area around the courthouse. Commissioners expect to break ground and
officially start construction in summer of 2023.
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