Hamilton County approves funding for government center expansion

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Hamilton County is moving forward with plans to expand its government and judicial center in Noblesville.

In the second of two required public hearings on the matter Wednesday night, the county council unanimously approved an ordinance that allows the county to issue a $12 million general obligation bond to finance the project, which is expected to cost about $24 million.

Council members also appropriated the rest of the funding for the project from the county’s general fund (roughly $10.6 million) and the cumulative courthouse fund (about $1.2 million).

The project aims to address a space crunch at the Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center, 1 Hamilton County Square, which is home to the county’s court system, meeting rooms for the county commissioners and council, and several county offices.

County leaders plan to add a three-story, 132,000-square-foot addition to the facility’s west side in order to relocate a handful of county offices located in the nearby courthouse and to provide more space for the growing court system.

Officials have long speculated Hamilton County will eventually need to add an additional court facility, and county leaders have expressed a desire to consolidate related county offices into one space.

The roughly 200,000-square-foot judicial center was originally constructed in 1992 and was expected to fulfill the county’s needs for 20 years, county attorney Mike Howard told the council March 7.

“We’re up at 26 years now, so it has served us well,” he said.

Around the time of construction, the county bought the land directly west of the current facility with an expansion in mind, he said. Leaders began mulling the county’s options for an expansion about five years ago and debated whether to add to the existing facility or construct a building on county-owned land on Foundation Drive, east of State Road 37.

Ultimately, officials chose the first option, citing the economic advantages of keeping county employees and visitors to county offices in downtown Noblesville. During his state of the county address earlier this year, commissioner Steve Dillinger said construction on the expansion could begin this spring and be completed in fall 2019.

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