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A supervisor emerges from judges chambers? Might not be far off.

The Linn County Supervisors toured the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, trying to envision how the county might use the building.

I tried to envision the county supervisors holding court from the stately judges chambers with their private bathrooms and conference rooms (not to be confused with each other), and huge windows looking west over the river.

Linda Langston tells me that’s not likely, even if the county does end up buying the building from the city.

The General Services Administration owns the building at 101 First St. SE, which was built in 1933 originally as a post office.

The city of Cedar Rapids will soon take it over in exchange for donating the land on which the new federal courthouse will be built south of downtown.

The GSA expects repairs at the federal courthouse to be complete in June, a year after floodwater rose to four feet on the building’s first floor.

Linn County, which has housed juvenile courts and several management offices at the Palmer Building, 123 Second Ave. SE, since the summer, needs permanent home for juvenile courts and
has long needed more space for district courts.

Supervisors Linda Langston, Brent Oleson and Ben Rogers walked through the gutted basement and first floor, and looked at the main courtroom on the third floor. They toured judges offices on the northwest corner of the building, complete with private bathrooms and plush conference rooms.

“They’re certainly interesting spaces,” Langston said. “I’m not sure they’re likely to be single offices again.”

Workers have replaced heating, cooling and electrical systems in the basement, and gutted the basement and first floor. They will leave those floors unfinished to offer flexibility to the building’s future tenant. The building has 40,572 usable square feet, and much of that is room that can be converted to courtrooms or office space.

Denise Ryerkerk, the project manager for GSA, said it wasn’t cost-effective to move mechanical systems out of the basement, which filled with water during the flood. The attic was the only other option, and moving the machinery there would have required workers to cut holes in the roof and place massive, vibrating machines above the building’s key, historic courtroom.

“Ultimately, it didn’t make sense when we looked at all these issues,” she said.

The building was built in 1933, originally as a post office, and 2008 was the only year in which it sustained major damage from a flood.

Still, flood insurance is of huge concern to the Board of Supervisors.

Linn County Risk Manager Steve Estenson said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will require the county to cover insurance that will cover as much damage as county buildings sustained in the flood — about $30 million.

The premiums will be high, but Estenson doesn’t know how high.

“The broker is kind of shopping that around,” he said.

Though the federal courthouse wouldn’t have to be insured to the same extent as current county buildings, because it was federally owned during the flood, it would have to be somehow floodproofed.


Filed under: Cedar Rapids City Council, County Government, Flood, , , , , ,

One Response

  1. Shaun Roden says:

    Very nice information. Thanks for the time put into the blog you wrote.

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