Beaufort News

County officials mull plans to renovate courthouse, other buildings

The crumbling, water-damaged facade of the Beaufort County Courthouse and other county buildings could be repaired soon.

The administration building and part of the Beaufort County Detention Center also need repairs. Fraser Construction of Beaufort was the only one of the five contractors prequalified for the project to submit a bid, according to Beaufort County Administrator Gary Kubic.

In all, the repairs could cost as much as $13 million, according to the county purchasing department.

Kubic said county officials are mulling whether to award the contract to Fraser or put the project on hold.

"It's a little concerning to me that we only had one bid on this project," Kubic said. "In this economy, I would have thought there would have been more bids and more interest."

Kubic said he has instructed the finance department to study the project's affordability and report back.

"I should have their findings next week, and from there I'll decide whether to recommend the project to committee," Kubic said. County officials have said the courthouse needs a new roof, exterior and window work, and possibly more substantial framing to repair damage caused by faulty stucco applied to the building when it was built in the early 1990s. The county sued 11 contractors in 2004, arguing that the stucco finish led to water damage. It received an $8.2 million settlement in 2008.

After paying attorney fees, the county has more than $6 million for renovations, county officials have said.

If county officials decide to move forward, they likely would sell bonds to help make up the $7 million difference, county officials have said.

Glick/Boehm and Associates, a Charleston architecture firm hired by the county to design the new courthouse, estimated it would take more than a year to complete the courthouse renovations.

The work includes replacing the crumbling stucco facade with brick in an attempt to achieve the look of the 19th- and early 20th-century brick courthouses once common in the Lowcountry.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.

To view the architects' plans for the Beaufort County Courthouse, click here

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