Bank building fits county’s master plans
Although no deal has been struck yet, the proposed purchase of the Bank One building adjacent to the vacant jail in downtown Corydon fits snugly into the 20-year master plan to fill space needs being developed for the Harrison County Board of Commissioners’ and county council’s consideration.
“That is a huge step in the right direction of meeting these 20-year space needs,” said architect Joseph M. Mrak of RQAW Consulting Engineers and Architects of Indianapolis. His firm has teamed with Siemens Building Technologies of Indianapolis in developing the long-range plan.
“I think the bank building makes the whole plan work much better. In the long-range, it makes a lot of sense,” said Mrak, whose firm designed the Harrison County Justice Center which opened in August 1996.
Mrak said the Bank One building “is solid and the building well maintained inside and out.”
The purchase makes sense because the bank building — which is handicapped accessible and has an elevator to the second floor — could be connected to the old jail, making that building accessible on both floors, Mrak said.
Two proposals were submitted for the renovation of the courthouse, bank building and the jail — one to meet needs for the next seven to 10 years, and another for use beyond that. The second phase would include an addition to the Harrison County Justice Center on Gardner Lane, which could free space in the downtown courthouse by moving the Circuit Court and related offices to the Justice Center.
The plans were well-received by the county officials and department heads who were invited to the commissioners’ room to view the proposals and suggest necessary changes.
The courthouse would be extensively upgraded and renovated, but the architectural integrity of the 1920s building would be protected and enhanced.
“When we are done, you will walk into a brand new 1929 building,” Mrak told the audience.
“Keep in mind this is all preliminary,” said commission chair Terry L. Miller, cautiously. “We’re not set in stone on any of this.”
The project has been in the planning for four years, during which the scope has changed to include not only steps to save energy but to provide office space and record storage for the long term.
Commissioners J.R. Eckart and James Goldman have been brought up to date since taking office in January 2001, and both seemed pleased with the plans introduced Monday.
Engineers Joe Pash and Blaine Miller of Siemens, however, explained a multitude of steps planned to either save energy or make the courthouse and two other buildings more habitable, including all new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, plus wiring to meet technological needs.
The bank building’s availability is the latest development, and county attorney David A. Layson has forwarded a purchase offer to bank officials.
No dollar figure was released, but Miller said the purchase price of the bank building was based on two appraisals.
“I think it is fair, and I think people, when they hear what it will cost, will be tickled with it,” Miller said.
The offer does not include a deadline, but the bank has indicated it would not want to vacate the building until September.
No cost estimates were revealed for the overall project, or a timetable for completion, because the project is still in the early, preliminary stage, but Miller said he believes the costs will meet with public approval.
As planning and zoning administrator Terry Smith left the room at the close of the presentation, he said with a wave, “Let us know when to pack up.”
He and others in the county-owned Annex building will be happy to move anywhere, he said with a chuckle, as long as it isn’t on a creek bank.
Everyone in that building, which sits alongside Little Indian Creek and which suffered extensive flooding in 1997, becomes concerned when it rains heavily. The Annex would be vacated if the offices eventually move into the new complex across from the courthouse.
Recorder Barbara Mathes said it would be much easier to direct people across the street when they need to visit one of the offices now in the annex, rather than that building on Mulberry Street.