Corpus Christi Caller Times
CORPUS CHRISTI — A study of the old Nueces County Courthouse found that the structure is unsound and has severely deteriorated from more than three decades of exposure to the elements.
The findings were revealed to county commissioners Wednesday by officials from LNV Engineering, a company hired to conduct the two-phase analysis.
The 1914 courthouse has sat idle since 1977 and is protected from demolition until 2027 because of a stipulation attached to state grant funds.
It would cost an estimated $34.7 million to renovate only the 1914 building. To renovate the entire 86,400 square-foot structure including the 1930 addition, it would cost about $41.1 million.
By comparison, the nearby federal courthouse, which has nearly twice the square footage, was built in 2001 for $27.3 million.
“This county doesn’t have $40 million to spend on this project nor does the city,” Commissioner Mike Pusley said. “I think the point and time when we could have saved this building has passed.”
Buildings designated historical such as the courthouse are exempt from being brought up to current standards but there is an exception if they become safety hazards.
Pusley, who twice toured the site, plans to use the study’s findings to petition the Texas Historical Commission to lift the deed restriction. That would allow commissioners to decide whether to tear it down, which could cost $2 million to $3 million.
Pusley said that while he understands the building’s historical significance, it doesn’t change the circumstances: The building’s condition is unsafe and the lack of any foreseeable funding to renovate it has sealed its fate.