Office space study for the Square splits commission

Scott Broden, The Daily News Journal, March 17, 2017

The Rutherford County Judicial Center, north side of the Public Square.

A divided Rutherford County Commission approved a $50,000 planning study Thursday to evaluate existing government offices in the downtown Square area of Murfreesboro.

Commissioner Charlie Baum was among those in the minority of a 12-7 vote that authorizes the county to hire Nashville-based Gresham, Smith and Partners to conduct a six-month study examining the existing county offices that include the Judicial Building that will be replaced next year.

The firm will also look at the historic County Courthouse that dates back to the Civil War era, and the former Goldstein Building that went from being a department store to serving as offices for the Election Commission, and the county’s Building Codes and Engineering & Planning departments.

“I’m going to be disappointed if the Gresham Smith architects come back with a recommendation to tear down several buildings around Murfreesboro’s historic Square,” Baum said after the meeting.

The fast-growing county that reached a U.S. Census estimated population of 298,612 on July 1, 2015, is building a new Judicial Center that’s scheduled to open June 2018 on Lytle Street a couple of blocks north of the existing Judicial Building that opened in the early 1980s on the north side of the Square when the county had fewer than 100,000 residents.

Goldstein’s Department Store occupied this building on the south side of the Square in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The firm doing the evaluation also is serving as the architect for the new Judicial Center that will front Lytle and be on the east side of Maple Street between Lytle and Burton Street. The firm’s design went through modifications in pursuing a modern and secure $73 million Judicial Center project that county officials hope will blend well with the historic buildings in the Square area. The center also will have a nearby parking garage on the south side of Lytle between Maple and Walnut Street.

When it comes to vacating spaces in 2018, County Mayor Ernest Burgess has suggested in past interviews that offices in the Goldstein Building could relocate to a renovated and repurposed Judicial Building.

The county is examining space of government buildings in the Square area at a time the Murfreesboro City Council is also working with a consulting firm on possible redevelopment plans for an expanded downtown. Those plans include the Highland Avenue area where St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital used to be before relocating to the Gateway area around Medical Center Parkway and the Historic Bottoms area on the south side of Broad Street between West Main Street and Discovery Center next to the Maney Avenue intersection.

Reach Scott Broden at 615-278-5158 and on Twitter @ScottBroden.

Roll call

The Rutherford County Commission voted 12-7 to approve a $50,000 planning study Thursday to evaluate existing government offices in the downtown Square area of Murfreesboro.

Commissioners who voted yes: Doug Shafer, Carol Cook, Joe Frank Jernigan, Rhonda Allen, Mike Kusch, Pettus Read, Jeff Phillips, Allen McAdoo, Trey Gooch, Chantho Sourinho, Paul Johnson and Phil Dodd

Commissioners who voted no: Robert Peay Jr., Brad Turner, Steve Pearcy, Joe Gourley, Robert Stevens, Charlie Baum, David Nipper

Note: Commissioner Will Jordan was absent, and former Commissioner Shawn Kaplan announced his resignation at the start of the meeting. 

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