Corliss said the proposed annex behind the current Jefferson County Courthouse would have about 40,000 square feet of space and would house two circuit courtrooms, a new circuit clerk's office and other county offices.
The annex will be connected to the former Jefferson County Jail, which is being renovated for county offices.
Although the architect working on the project will be in charge of the exterior design, the county wants the annex to blend with architecture of other historic buildings in town, and not be a "big stark" modern building, said Kirk E. Davis Sr., capital projects manager for the county.
"It's going to be fairly well hidden, except from Liberty Street," Corliss said.
Commission member Dale Manuel said workers will have to drill into the ground behind the former jail building to make sure the annex has a solid base. County officials want to make sure the site is suitable for the building, since there is an underground lake in the area, Manuel said.
Corliss said growing court operations downtown are driving the need for a new court facility. In addition to sitting Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr., Berkeley County Circuit Judge Gray Silver III now comes to Jefferson County to conduct court, Corliss said.
When that happens, space in Jefferson County Magistrate Court has to be used for the additional court sessions, Corliss said.
"It jams up things. It's an ongoing problem," Corliss said.
Corliss said the new court facilities need to be in place by 2009.