$2.4M Manatee courthouse renovation to begin

skennedy@bradenton.comSeptember 6, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Work will start soon on a $2.4 million renovation of parts of the second floor of the Manatee County historic courthouse.

The dusty, vacant upstairs at the old courthouse will be converted into office space, and eventually house about 50 state employees who handle child support enforcement, said R.B. "Chips" Shore, Manatee County clerk of the circuit court and comptroller.

The group, which Shore oversees under a contract with the state, is working nearby in a leased space now, he said.

"Once you look at our second floor, we've got all this room with nothing in it," Shore said. "I'd rather see something nice go into this building," rather than continuing to pay rent, he added.

One other reason he is seeking a move: "The child support division is a division that gets very unhappy clients, and we have very little if any, protection in the building it's in now," Shore said.

Everyone will be subject to security checks after the renovation, he said.

Renovation costs will be offset because the state is

paying an estimated $275,000 in rent annually, according to county documents.

The Manatee County Commission OK'd plans for the project awarded Aug. 27 to the low bidder, Power Contracting LLC of Palmetto, at $2.4 million.

The project will begin Sept. 16, according to Manatee County project manager Angela Honts. Completion is expected in 260 days.

The old courthouse, built in 1913 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located at 1115 Manatee Ave. W.

The remodel will include structural repairs, framing and drywall, new flooring and ceiling tiles, plumbing, fire protection, and new electrical and air-conditioning systems.

No work will be done in a portion of the building where there is a historic courtroom, except installation of a new fire sprinkler system, county documents said.

The courthouse is also in the midst of a $698,964 grounds restoration, and only recently emerged from a multimillion-dollar exterior facelift.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031.

Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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