Scott Broden, The Daily News Journal, September 23, 2017
Rutherford County Commissioners will decide whether to sell or renovate three buildings on the outer side of Murfreesboro’s historic downtown Square.
“We have the potential to make it more vibrant with businesses, restaurants, shops,” Commissioner Mike Kusch said during a Thursday night Property Management Committee meeting.
The seven-member committee and officials who oversee government departments will rank options that could cost from $9.7 million to $13.1 million, based on a study from Gresham Smith and Partners. The’ll discuss those rankings at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 in Room 205 on the second floor of a Civil War-era County Courthouse that would remain as the seat of government in the center of the Square.
The county’s existing offices have 109,556 usable square feet to serve a fast-growing Rutherford that reached a U.S. Census estimated population of 308,251 on July 1, 2016. About 95.7 percent of this office space is expected to fill up by 2022 without counting the future 200,000-square-foot Judicial Center scheduled to open by May 1 on Lytle Street a couple blocks north of the square and replace the overcrowded Judicial Building that opened in 1980.
The choices between renovating and selling involve the five-story Judicial Building and its connected Annex on the north side of the Square by Maple Street; and a county office building (formerly Goldstein store) for the Election Commission, Building Codes, Planning and Engineering staffs on the south side of the Square by Church Street.
County may build new offices off the Square
If the commissioners decided to sell the three buildings, they’d plan to build other offices to relocate staff. This could include a 47,000-square-foot expansion for nearly $6 million of a building at 319 N. Maple St. off Lytle Street, according to the study.
The two-story Maple Street building provides space for the County Clerk, Register of Deeds and Property Assessor staffs. Another $504,000 would be needed to reconfigure the existing building space.
The expansion plan for the Maple Street building may also require adding two more stories to the four-story parking garage on Lytle for $3.5 million, said Steve Johnson, an executive vice president for Gresham Smith and Partners. The garage offers 360 spaces now, which is about 90 per floor.
Johnson’s firm also is serving as the architect for the new Judicial Center with designs that went through modifications to blend better with the historical downtown.
County could collect tax revenues by selling buildings
Johnson also suggested the county consider buying a medical office building for sale for $1 million at 525 N. University to relocate the Probation staff from West Main Street and save $96,000 per year from an annual lease. Renovation costs for the medical building would be $502,000.
The county could generate $48,000 in annual property tax revenues by selling the three buildings on the outer side of the Square, said Johnson, who confirmed after the meeting that sales and hotel tax revenues are also possible.
“The Square is very valuable real estate,” Johnson said. “I’m calling it lakefront. It’s a preserved Square that’s very vibrant.”
Kusch noted how the commissioners “have an opportunity to take a really pretty historic downtown Murfreesboro” and enhance what surrounds a Civil War-era County Courthouse.
Renovation of three outer Square buildings would cost $5.4 million
Johnson’s firm estimates that the county would face spending more than $2.8 million to renovate the Judicial Building that provides 30,000 square feet of usable office space. The firm estimates this building could be sold for $60 per square foot.
The Annex renovation costs would be $555,000 for a building that provides 15,000 square feet of usable space. The estimated per-square-foot selling value would be $40, the firm estimates.
The old Goldstein store would cost $1.1 million to renovate for 16,000 square feet of usable space. The estimated per-square-foot value is $50.
Reach Scott Broden at 615-278-5158. Follow him on Twitter @ScottBroden