Article published April 26, 1990
County to spend $800,000 on more jail space
Spartanburg County will spend about $800,000 to convert an old warehouse into jail space to temporarily relieve overcrowding in the county's 30-year-old jail. The County Council yesterday approved building dormitory jail cells in the former Sullivan Hardware Building, located across Daniel Morgan Avenue from the county jail. The temporary jail also will carry a $1.1 million operating cost during the three years it will take to build a new jail.
Meanwhile, council members said yesterday they want more time to study cost projections before selecting a site for a new jail. A new jail is estimated to cost between $15 million and $20 million, depending on whether it's built near the existing jail adjacent to the County Courthouse in downtown Spartanburg or on one of three undisclosed sites outside the downtown area.
A team of jail architects says the site located away from the courthouse will be less expensive to build and operate in the long run. According to their cost projections, a jail at the the downtown site will cost about $2 million more to build and about $2 million more in operating cost over 20 years. The jail recommended by architects will cost $15.8 million to construct and cost $4.2 million to operate over 20 years.
Council members, however, asked architects to prepare additional information before a final decision is made. Architects from Henningson, Durham and Richardson of Dallas and McMillan and Saterfield of Spartanburg, presented the cost projections for four jail options to council members yesterday. The proposals estimated the costs for a jail at the downtown site or on a 40-acre site outside the downtown area, including plans for a temporary jail in the county-owned warehouse. They also estimated cost for a jail at the two sites, including plans that would incorporate temporary jail cells into the permanent facility.
Councilman David Dennis asked whether the county could save money by continuing to use the existing jail after a new jail is built. Earl Stahl, project manager for the architectural team, said it would cost more to bring the existing jail up to state standards and to operate two jails than the savings that would result from building a smaller new jail. "You've got a building that is essentially used up," Stahl said. Billy Moore, an inspector with the state Department of Corrections, confirmed that the existing jail would need extensive renovations to meet state standards.
Stahl said architects will prepare specific cost estimates on incorporating the old jail into future plans, but he said he believed they would be economically prohibitive. Though council members decided to delay selection of a jail site, Councilwoman Sallie Peake said, "I don't see where we need to keep meeting and discussing (the temporary jail)." The temporary jail, which will provide space for 100 inmates and another 30 weekend prisoners, was approved 4-1 with Councilman Skip Corn in opposition.
Corn said the using the warehouse as a temporary jail is the best decision, but he said he wanted more specific information on where the county would get the money to pay for the renovations.
County Administrator Roland Windham said a proposed bond issue includes money for the temporary jail, but he is unsure whether it will cover all of the proposed expenses.