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Pottawattamie County plans renovations for courthouse complex

Officials to announce plans in Tuesday meeting.
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 11:17 PM CST
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Council Bluffs, Iowa (WOWT) - Pottawattamie County officials say they work in blighted conditions.

The Board of Supervisors plans to announce the Urban Renewal Plan during its next meeting Tuesday to update its campus.

This could be the biggest renovation the courthouse campus has ever seen, or at least in the lifetime of board member Justin Schultz.

“The idea is consolidation,” Schultz said. “We want to consolidate as many services as we can inside the courthouse, so it’s kind of a one-stop-shop for most folks.”

The campus is made up of three buildings: the law enforcement center, an annex—which used to be a church—and the services building, which was formerly an armory. They look, feel, and are deemed blighted—according to state code.

“It’s almost sad because [people] had to deal with this for decades,” Schultz said.

If you’re wheelchair-bound, good luck using restrooms in the annex. Narrow doors from decades-past are still intact.

“This is not ADA compliant,” Schultz said atop a staircase. “If you’re someone who needs those kinds of accommodations, these stairs simply aren’t going to work.”

Officials identified ADA non-compliance, asbestos, and outdated mechanics across the campus.

Roooms in the county services building have airconditioning units hanging out windows. Inside, exposed vents wrap around hallways. They keep employees warm, but are noisy. Especially for one office with a heating unit in the middle of the room.

It’s a multi-million dollar project that residents won’t have to worry about financing. The county plans to use financing tools.

“The nice thing about this is that we had about 19 cents coming off out debt service levy,” Schultz said. “By doing this Urban Renewal, we’re able to take advantage of that 19 cents, so as a taxpayer you’re not going to see a change in your taxes.”

Schultz calls it a win for employees and taxpayers who visit the courthouse campus.

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