Article published May 17, 1990
California Avenue site tops list for jail
A wooded, 43.5-acre site on California Avenue tops the list of potential locations for a $12.9 million Spartanburg County jail. County officials have not disclosed sites under consideration, but three sources close to County Council discussions confirm that the property bounded by California Avenue, Howard Street, Glenn Road and El Paso Street has been picked as the best location.
The site, which is about three miles north of the County Courthouse and just west of Asheville Highway, was selected over three other sites in nearby Una off Old Greenville Road. An old automobile junkyard and a former miniature golf course are the only development on the property. About a dozen residences along El Paso Street, a county garbage compactor station on Glenn Road and a residence, carpet warehouse, suntanning parlor and bar on the corner of Howard Street and California Avenue are located in the same block but are not included on the property under consideration for a jail.
Sources stressed that County Council still must negotiate a purchase agreement with the owner of the land and may fall back on a second site if a purchase agreement cannot be reached. County tax records show that the property belongs to Mildred C. Walker of Dallas and is appraised at $193,100. The property was one of three parcels Ms. Walker acquired in March 1982 from Dexter Cleveland, Jesse P. Cleveland and Donna Cleveland for $3 and other considerations.
The county budgeted $600,000 for the land purchase. County Administrator Roland Windham said the budget was prepared by his predecessor, Ken Westmoreland, and is unsure how the figure was reached. He said the estimate was prepared before architects had evaluated the sites.
Windham said a team of jail architects evaluated the sites based on location, access to electricity, sewer and water lines and the cost of preparing the site for construction. The county administrator would not release results of the evaluation. He said the information was presented to council members in closed session. He said he knows of no negotiations for land purchase between county officials and owners of any proposed site. Windham said he will not begin land purchase talks until the council votes to authorize construction.
A decision on the new jail is expected at the council's May 23 meeting. After council members all but ruled out the possibility of building a jail on a downtown site adjacent to the existing jail earlier this week, the California Avenue site became the most likely location, sources said. County officials are studying how to pay for the jail and related costs.
In addition to the $12.9 million construction and land acquisition costs, the county must finance a $916,000 warehouse renovation to temporarily ease jail overcrowding, spend $90,000 to build courthouse holding cells and about $5 million in added operating costs over the next 10 years.