Article published June 15, 1990
California Avenue site to get jail
A new Spartanburg County jail will be built on a California Avenue site, barring any last minute snag in buying the property. The County Council authorized County Administrator Roland Windham to have the 43-acre site appraised and to continue negotiations with the property owner to buy the wooded site bounded by California Avenue, Howard Street, Glenn Road and El Paso Street.
Agents of the property owner have offered to sell the land to the county for $600,000 - $15,000 per acre, Windham said. County tax records show that the property, owned by Mildred C. Walker of Dallas, Texas, is appraised for $193,000.
Council Chairman Lach Hyatt said the county can condemn the property if necessary. State condemnation laws allow public bodies to acquire land for public projects with a fair market price determined by a court.
After a telephone conversation with County Attorney Roy McBee Smith, Hyatt said it would take about two months to complete condemnation proceedings, if the council decides to proceed with the legal action. Earl Stahl, architect for the jail project, said the land acquisition should not delay the project since it will take about eight months to design and develop detailed construction plans for a new jail.
Stahl recommended the county select the Califorina Avenue site over six others all located within five miles of the County Courthouse. He said site has several advantages over other sites, particularly the ability to accommodate future expansion. While all of the sites could accommodate a 620-bed jail, the California Avenue site provides the most flexibility for the county to build other related facilities, like a work release center.
Plans call for the county to build a 240-bed jail initially and expand that facility to eventually accommodate 620 inmates. Construction costs for the jail have been estimated at $13.5 million. The county also faces other related costs, including the $900,000 renovation of a county warehouse to provide temporary jail space until the new jail is contructed.
In selecting the California Avenue location, council members passed over two proposed sites on Old Greenville Highway, and proposed locations at South Church Street at S.C. Highway 295, Fairforest Road and New Cut Road, and on Old Boiling Springs Road just north of Interstate 85.
Factors that contributed to the selection of the site include proximity to the courthouse - 2.6 miles, availability of access roads and utilities and low cost of development. Two of the other sites are in residential neighborhoods, Stahl said, making them less desirable for jail construction. "Among all these sites, (the California Ave. site) is the best one. There is just no powerful negatives that exist as with the other sites. There's really no good second choice."
Construction of the new jail is expected to take about three years.