A plan for a new U.S. District Courthouse in Greenville has gotten approval from the federal General Services Administration.
The $28.7 million, 55,000-square-foot project will be built on Washington Avenue in downtown, with construction to start in the spring and completion expected for the fall of 2022, said Jackson architect Roy Decker, whose firm, Duvall and Decker, submitted the winning bid.
It will replace one built in 1960 that has become outdated and inefficient.
The architecture of that era does not lend itself to rehabilitation, only replacement, unlike older more-substantially constructed structures, said Decker, who is co-lead designer with Steve Dumez of Eskew Dumez Ripple of New Orleans.
The new courthouse complex will lend itself to an ongoing downtown revitalization of the river city, whose current population of 34,000 is far from its peak of 48,000, said Daniel Boggs, chief executive of Main Street Greenville.
“It’s huge for us, not only because of the economic impact, but also because it’s going into the area that is almost the heart of our revitalization effort,” Boggs said in an interview. “Like many communities back in the ’70s and ’80s all the stores started moving out to the highway, leaving a lot of vacancies downtown.”
It was not a given that the court would stay in Greenville, which had been known as the Queen City, known for its economic dominance in the Delta, as well as a literary tradition far beyond its size, with writers such as newspaperman Hodding Carter Jr., novelist and historian Shelby Foote, William Alexander Percy and others.
“At one point, there was an attempt to move the court to Cleveland,” Decker said in an interview. When Debra Brown was confirmed in 2013 as judge for the Greenville subdistrict of the Northern District she was concerned about the poor security of the building.
But then Sen. Thad Cochran authored a bill for a new courthouse in Greenville, which was approved by Congress, Decker said.
Percy’s memoir, “Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of Planter’s Son,” serves as an inspiration in the design of the complex, said Decker.
“The facted glass and wood courthouse structure is also a ‘lantern on the levee’ like the lights carried during night inspections of the system of berms designed to control flood waters.
“This parallel has served as an inspiration to the design team,” the firm said in a release. “The illuminated watch protected the community in the same way that the judicial system protects society by maintaining the rule of law.”
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