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First step taken to find use for old courthouse

File photo

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved a $208,420 contract with Navigate Building Solutions of St. Louis to create a facility needs study of the county’s buildings in Jackson.

Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy said the study will be used to help the County decide the future use of the old Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson, as well as create a strategic plan into possible renovations at the county’s jail, Administrative Building and Archive Center.

“How do we create space? What’s the best flow? What’s the best use of the facilities we’ve got? And then how do we augment that with the old courthouse and integrate it into our solution, because now it’s empty,” Tracy said.

The old Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson has remained empty since the new county courthouse opened in May 2020.

“It’s a blank canvas,” Tracy said of the old courthouse. “It will be administrative space, and the county is going to use it. We aren’t sure who will go in there, but it’s not useable the way it is so it has to be reconfigured.

Tracy said the 1908 building would need renovations before it can be occupied again. “We have to get a price tag on the cost to fix it,” Tracy said. He added that the county jail will also be a major component of the study, as it is currently over capacity.

Commissioner Charlie Herbst said the study will not only cover the county’s space needs, but also identify needs for the building’s electrical, structural, plumbing, HVAC and security systems moving forward.

“We are going to look at all our needs and all of our space to see what we need,” Herbst said. Adding the study should give an estimate on the costs of potential projects.

The County worked with Navigate in 2018 as design-build consultants on the new courthouse project, helping the County put together the design and cost parameters for the project before it went out for bid.

“We’ve done a lot of the homework as far as the square feet of the old courthouse and what needs to be renovated, so they are walking us through the design-build process to renovate that,” Tracy said.

Herbst added that the County is currently following the same process used when looking into building a new courthouse, starting with a “discovery period” and facility needs study.

The County’s last facility needs study was in 2013 and helped narrow the scope for the new courthouse project. “Originally, when we were first talking about building a new courthouse, we thought we would build a new building and put everybody in it,” Tracy said, adding that plan became cost prohibitive.

The 2013 study also led the County to later move juvenile justice services to a new facility on Rust Avenue in Cape Girardeau and move public defenders to a new facility on North High Street in Jackson.

Commissioner Paul Koeper said he hopes the County will be able to streamline operations for both the County and residents through these future projects.

“You go into some of the newer administration buildings for counties, you’ll find the collector, recorder and assessor all on one floor,” Koeper said. “Those are the offices people come here to see. Right now we have people bouncing up and down floors.”

“If you go to Boone County, you go into one waiting room,” Tracy added. “They have [reception] windows and employees are cross-trained, so you don’t have to go to various offices.”

Koeper said Navigate should present its initial findings to the County in November. An extension of the County’s contract with Navigate could be made to help move forward with a design-build project.

The County received two bids — from Navigate and Cresa — for the design-building criteria consultant request for qualifications.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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