Jefferson officials hear plans for new building

One commissioner says it could be a way to save the old county jail from demolition.

One commissioner says it could be a way to save the old county jail from demolition.

March 21, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Charles Town firm has come up with a plan to turn the former Schewel Furniture store at George and Liberty streets into a judicial center and lease - or sell it - to the Jefferson County Commission.

Under the plan, the Chafford Group would construct two parking garages and two more buildings at the site to house the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and six other county offices.

The commissioners could lease the judicial center, buy it, or purchase the entire complex for about $20.6 million, said Dan Douridas, general manager of Chafford Group.


The commissioners also could lease the complex, Douridas said.

Commissioner Greg Corliss said it could be a way to avoid tearing down the former Jefferson County Jail to create more court space.

Officials with Chafford Group, which purchased the old Schewel Furniture building, pitched the idea to the commissioners Thursday.

Chafford Group worked on the proposal because a recent study showed the county's demand for some types of office space will more than double by 2011, Douridas said.

The commissioners' plan to tear down the former jail to create court space has been opposed by some who say the jail should be preserved because of its architecture and history.

Chafford Group would redesign the inside of the furniture building to create two Circuit Court rooms, a Family Ccourt room, office space for the circuit clerk's office and storage space, Douridas and Corliss said.

Chafford Group would be willing to build a new office along Liberty Street for the sheriff's office and another building to house the county clerk's office, county commission offices, assessor's office, the planning, zoning and engineering office, emergency services and parks and recreation, Douridas said.

The county could lease the court complex for $27,000 a month, the sheriff's office for about $28,000 a month and the third building for about $78,000 a month, Douridas said.

Under an option to buy, the county could purchase the court center for about $4.1 million, the sheriff's office for about $4.2 million and the third office building for about $8.7 million, Douridas said.

Corliss said the county cannot afford to buy the entire package. "But at least we can get going with the Schewel building. That's the first step," he said.

Commissioner James G. Knode said he was doubtful the plan would eliminate the need to tear down the old jail. He said the jail property and the Schewel building probably would be needed for the county's future office needs.

Commissioner Al Hooper was skeptical of Chafford Group's offer, especially about its ability to offer parking at the site.

Hooper's comments came after Douridas said he had not acquired the property for the parking garages.

Hooper was the only commissioner to vote against a motion by Corliss to study "the utility of acquiring" property at the site.

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