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Travis County acquires old federal courthouse

Building will allow probate court expansion

Old federal courthouse in Austin
200 West Eighth Street, formerly a federal courthouse
Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0.

More than a year after voters rejected a $287 million bond proposal for a new courthouse, Travis County has acquired the deed to the old federal courthouse, the Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday.

The building, which has been empty since the federal courthouse moved to a new building four years, was declared surplus by the federal government, which means it will not cost the county any money, the newspaper reported.

The county will move its probate court and clerks offices to the building, alleviating its current overcrowding, according to the report. The original plan had been to build what was then expected to be a 538,000-square-foot courthouse on a plot of land at 308 Guadalupe the county had purchased in 2010. That hope was quashed by a bond defeat at the ballot box in 2015, and the county put up the land for development last fall.

According to the Statesman, renovating the old building and bringing it up to code will cost an estimated $28 million, and the building should last from 2020 until 2035 before more major repairs might be needed. The courthouse, built in 1936 is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Depression-era architectural details seen in its central massing, rectangular form, vertical flow of window bays, decorative metal rails and geometric details will need to be preserved, according to the report.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt told the newspaper that the county is still seeking sites for a new civil and family courthouse, but the current addition offers a great deal of relief for current overcrowding.

County gets old federal courthouse for probate court expansion [AAS]