Natchez’s new goal for federal courthouse: Open by early 2005

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 7, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; The goal of those working to renovate Memorial Hall for use as a federal courthouse is now to have the facility open by January 2005.

That is according to City Engineer David Gardner, who met with federal officials and architects this week to nail down details of the project.

Originally, city officials had hoped the project would be complete and ready for operation by January 2004.

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That completion date &uot;has been pushed back due to the complexity of trying to fit in the Marshals’ Service’s needs and the court’s needs into an existing historical structure,&uot; Gardner said. &uot;It’s a very challenging project.&uot;

The city should receive cost estimates on the project from estimator Carothers Construction next week, Gardner said. However, there are certain funding limits.

The U.S. General Services Administration will provide $1.8 million, the U.S. Marshals Service will put up $1 million and the city and Adams County have put up a total of $1.8 million in bond proceeds for the project.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has also approved a $400,000 grant for the project.

The city is hiring architects Waggonner and Ball of New Orleans and Carothers and is buying Memorial Hall from the Historic Natchez Foundation.

It also bought an adjacent building to build a sallyport for the courthouse and can do preliminary work on the facility using the city and county funds, Gardner said.

That work could include roofing, masonry work, inside cleanup and painting. &uot;We would then turn it over to the GSA (General Services Administration) to be completed,&uot; he said.

As it now stands, the city plans to do such preliminary work from May or June to October or November of next year.

&uot;Meanwhile, the architect is designing the inside of the building,&uot; Gardner said. &uot;The GSA should have that under contract by December of 2003 or January 2004, and that would take about 12 months of construction time.&uot;