By: David Gay, Reporter | Online, Amarillo Globe-News | March 12, 2021
Officials from Potter County, as well as representatives from Adolfson & Peterson Construction and HOK Group Inc., were on hand to break ground on the county’s new District Courts building in downtown Amarillo Friday afternoon.
The new building, which will be located at the intersection of Sixth Street and Pierce Street, will be located across the street where the current Potter County District Courts building is located. According to a news release, the new building, topping out at five stories, will be 58,250-square-feet and will include courtrooms, jury assembly, county offices, courtroom in-custody holding, as well as records storage.
Another feature of the new building will also be security enhancements, according to the release, including separate sheriff’s access with a vehicle sally port for security and safety, and separate access for judges and other elected officials.
Brandon Gaeke, the regional manager for Adolfson & Peterson Construction, said the exterior of the new “modern looking” building will be stone, brick and glass, going with “state of the art interiors to be able to adjudicate court cases.”
The current home of Potter County District Courts, which was constructed in 1985, was in need of updating, Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner said. Currently, the building has many leaks and is deteriorating, and it was important for Tanner to give employees of the Potter County District Courts, as well as the public that comes in to do business, a new home.
Gaeke said the process for the building started with a request for qualification in May. Since then, bids for the project were submitted, and the project was awarded in October.
Mercy Murguia, a current member of the Potter County Commissioners’ Court, said this building will serve “quite a few needs” of the county.
“It’s quite an initiative, $63 million plus. We have never taken on anything of this scale, from a debt perspective. I would say that I had a lot of reservations, right, but the need was there,” she said.
With all the additions for the new building, it will also include a larger room to house the Potter County Commissioners’ Court, giving the public easier access to their meetings. Murguia believes this access to the public is important as well.
“The idea to have more space and continuing to be transparent to the public is a goal I have and a goal, I think, we all have,” she said. “Anything we can do to invite the public in, help them have a new home, have the ability to be comfortable in a room.”
Gaeke said this new building will go along with the rest of the renovation and revitalization throughout downtown Amarillo.
“There’s a lot of things that have gone here in downtown that have revitalized stuff, and a lot of newer looking buildings, a lot of renovated buildings,” he said. “I think this will fit right inside of downtown and complement everything that’s going on around it, with the Xcel Energy building and the Embassy Suites and the historic nature of the other courthouse across the street. It will be a fabulous project.”
But Murguia stressed the building’s purpose is to serve the county’s needs and to help it grow in the future.
“We have a fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers. The obvious answer is it complements the revitalization piece of it, but really, our work (as) stewards is to make sure we are intersecting that with needs because at the end of the day, these are the taxpayers’ dollars,” she said. “We have to continue to hold the line, ask the hard questions, really, building structures that do echo our current need in the county and then help plan for part of the future.”
As for the current home for the Potter County District Courts, Tanner was not shy about its status once the new building opens in 21 or 22 months.
“We are going to tear that sucker down,” she said. “We are going to tear it down and put … parking. That is for the jurors and people coming to do business in both courthouses.”
No matter what the weather is like during the time when the building is completed, Tanner said she wants to host a ribbon cutting and get into the new building as soon as possible.
“I don’t care if it’s snowing – we are going to cut the ribbon,” she said with a laugh.
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