Shelby County Courthouse to undergo additions, renovations

COLUMBIANA – Improvements to the Shelby Count Courthouse will include the addition of two new courtrooms and changes to make the facility more user-friendly for residents, judges and court staff.

The number of courtrooms at the courthouse will be increased from eight to 10, along with many other changes and shuffling of office space.

A “shell” for the additions on the courthouse’s third floor was constructed during the last major renovation at the facility in 2001, and officials studied caseloads, judicial personnel resources, Alabama budget practices and county resources before determining to begin the build-out of the space, Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock said.

“We always stay out front,” Dudchock said. “We try to do things before we have to.”

The additional courtrooms—one jury courtroom and one non-jury courtroom— will be used by the probate judge, visiting judges, specially assigned judges and referees.

Two judicial offices will be built to accompany the two nearby courtrooms, in the form of an office suite.

The suite will include two judge offices, two judicial assistant offices and a restroom.

The layout of courtrooms 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 will be modified to improve public circulation and interior capacity along with enhanced sightlines for the judges.

Existing office space will be modified and relocated to accommodate additional attorney/client conference rooms and more.

Juvenile Court, Juvenile Court Services/Probation will be relocated to a dedicated floor section away from the other circuit and district court attendees.

Space on the second floor will be modified to create more conference/meeting space and court reporter secured storage.

Other improvements will include new client meeting space in the current suite of the district court judge assigned to juvenile court, office space to allow Juvenile Court Services/Probation personnel to be in the operating suite adjacent to the new courtrooms used for juvenile court and family court, additional offices and attorney/client rooms in the suite used by Shelby County Community Corrections, the relocation of all Community Corrections offices to the first floor near the main public parking lot and courthouse entrance, and enhance the primary courthouse security station.

There are also plans to relocate the coroner’s office to the Butch Ellis Community Services Building and utilize the offices for attorney/client meeting space for circuit court dockets.

Circuit Court Judge Sonny Conwill asked judges William H. Bostick and Corey B. Moore along with Court Administrator Jennifer Nalu to work with Dudchock and Reed Prince, manager of facilities and general services, on programming judicial space, Dudchock said.

“After the initial meetings, we engaged the other tenants in the process concerning their individual operating areas: District Attorney Jill Lee; Judge Kramer; Leann Rigney, director of JCS; Circuit Clerk Mary Harris; Judge Fuhrmeister; Coroner Lina Evans; and Julius Cook, director of Shelby County Community Corrections,” Dudchcock said.

The project has a targeted bid date of Dec. 5. The lead project designer is Steve Coker, architect, Stephen Coker Architect LLC.

Prior major renovations/additions to the courthouse took place in 1906, 1954, 1990 and 2001, and the original part of the courthouse was constructed in 1905.

Dudchock said the goal is for the improvements to cover the county’s needs for about 20 years.

Courthouse staff will be shuffled around during the construction, officials said. The third-floor build-out will likely be finished first to provide extra space.

“That part is going to be exciting—figuring out how you’re going to do it,” Prince said.