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Osceola manager wants to delay decision on courthouse expansion for a year

Osceola County needs more space for court operations. One option under consideration is building a 150,000-square-foot addition to the existing courthouse in downtown Kissimmee.  Cost: $42.5 million  Annual Debt Service: $2.5 million
Osceola County needs more space for court operations. One option under consideration is building a 150,000-square-foot addition to the existing courthouse in downtown Kissimmee.  Cost: $42.5 million  Annual Debt Service: $2.5 million (Osceola County)

Osceola County Manager Don Fisher told commissioners he'd have a recommendation in December on whether they should move the county offices out of downtown Kissimmee and build a new $60 million administrative building at the government complex on East Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway.

Instead, tonight he'll ask commissioners to wait a year before making a decision.

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"With some of the changes we've made, I think we bought ourselves some time," Fisher told GrowthSpotter.

The demands of the court system are driving the need to consider relocating. The county already has vacated part of its third floor to make room for more court functions. In the next five years, the county will need to either build a courthouse addition or a new administrative building at another location.

Fisher estimates it would cost $42.5 million to build a 150,000-square-foot courthouse addition and new parking garage at Courthouse Square. The cost of building a new 5-story county administrative center on U.S. 192 are comparable, but retrofitting the county administrative building for the courts adds another $13.7 million - bringing that total project cost closer to $54 million.

The cost jumps to $60.7 million if the county opts to build a 6-story building to include the Supervisor of Elections and Property Appraiser offices.

Commissioner Cheryl Greib has been a strong advocate for keeping the county offices at One Courthouse Square. "I guess waiting is better than moving - and it will give us more time to study this and know how it really would affect downtown," she said. "I still have a great concern that a majority of the commission wants to move."

Delaying the decision could put it in the hands of a new board. Commission Chairman Brandon Arrington and Commissioners Michael Harford and Fred Hawkins Jr. all face reelection challenges in 2016.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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