As an attorney who has practiced in Thurston County for 36 years, I can attest that the courthouse has been inadequate for decades. Even in 1982, there was not enough parking, and the buildings are unsafe for jurors, judges, officials and the public.
Selling the county property on Mottman Hill back into the private sector and building a new courthouse on the former City Hall Plum Street property makes the most sense to serve the public. The current courthouse property is highly valuable for high-rise mixed residential and commercial redevelopment.
Partnering with the city will reduce costs and the new courthouse can be a signature high-rise building with an adjacent parking garage. After the State Capitol, our courthouse should be the most monumental building in our county seat like it was in 1892. Great freeway access and adequate parking on the east side of downtown around Plum Street will benefit the public and the increased economic development activity of our downtown core.
The new building should be engineered for future expansion since Thurston County and the municipalities will continue to grow and will need more judges in the coming years. In addition, in the near future the county will likely be governed by a council consisting of more than three members, so a new County Council Chamber should be designed with that in mind.
The next courthouse should be built for the next 100 years rather than the 30 to 40 years the courthouses of the 20th century lasted.