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Historic Nueces County Courthouse now for sale

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The county has put the former Nueces County Courthouse up for sale. The county has put the former Nueces County Courthouse up for sale.
Commissioners hope an investor will be attracted to the 1914 historic landmark. Commissioners hope an investor will be attracted to the 1914 historic landmark.
The building has been vacant for nearly 40 years and would cost at least $40 million to repair. The building has been vacant for nearly 40 years and would cost at least $40 million to repair.
The Texas Historical Commission has deed restrictions on the property that prohibit it from being demolished until 2027. The Texas Historical Commission has deed restrictions on the property that prohibit it from being demolished until 2027.
CORPUS CHRISTI -

The former Nueces County Courthouse, a historic landmark built in 1914, is on the market. 

Nueces County Commissioners voted this morning to rescind a plan to tear the structure down, and instead put it up for sale. The move comes after a long history of trying to figure out what to do with the deteriorating building.  

"My hope is that somebody cool will come along and see it as an opportunity, want to buy it, want to fix it up, and make it into something productive," said Commissioner Brent Chesney.

Once the center of law and justice, the former county courthouse has sat vacant and crumbling for almost 40 years. 

"It's sitting there, dilapidating, and we can't do anything to do about it," Commissioner Chesney said. 

In 2010, County Commissioners got a cost estimate on repairs to the building. The estimate was $40 million. 

"We're having a hard enough time as it is not raising your taxes and still fixing all the things that we want to fix for people to have an accessible community," Commissioner Chesney said. "We don't have $40 million dollars lying around to fix a building."

Commissioners passed a resolution to tear the structure down in 2011. However, because money from the state had previously used to repair part of the building, the Texas Historical Commission has a deed restriction on the property that prevents it from being demolished until at least 2027. 

Commissioner Mike Pusley led the charge for demolition of the building. He says of its current state, "There's no doubt, it's a public nuisance the way it is."

Now as the courthouse sits empty, it costs the county. This year maintenance and security cost $2-3,000. In previous years it the bill has been has high as $15,000. 

"We get occasional break-ins and we have an alarm system. Of course there's ground maintenance," said Glen Sullivan, Director of Public Works. 

County Commissioners took two votes today: one to put demolition plans on hold, and the other to put the building up for sale. 

However, there are conditions for the buyer. 

"What comes with it is a historical covenant that says it can't be torn down, and it's a historical marker until at least 2027," Commissioner Chesney said. 

Until then, any repairs would need to meet the Historical Commission's standards. 

The buyer would also pay about $1.5 million in back taxes, but could also get a 25 percent tax credit from the state paired with a 20 percent federal tax credit for taking on the project. 

"I don't know if we'll get anywhere, but it's a very proactive attempt to do something with that building other than just let it sit there for another 11 years and do nothing with it," Commissioner Chesney said. 

Pusley said he's already been in contact with companies who specialize in the restoration of historic buildings, and he's optimistic that one of them will make an offer. He also believes the project would help boost revitalization in the area, especially since the current Harbor Bridge will be demolished in five years.

"When that bridge goes away, the old courthouse will be the biggest structure in that area and we don't want it to be a big eyesore," Pusley said. "All kinds of development, we suspect, will take place in and around where the old Harbor Bridge used to be, and that's a great thing and we want to help be a part of that."

Local real estate agency Joe Adame & Associates, Inc. will handle the sale of the courthouse. Marc Adame tells KRIS 6 News, "it is a very exciting opportunity for the community."

A minimum asking price will be set at the upcoming Commissioner's meeting in October. That's also when commissioners will approve the contract with Joe Adame & Associates. The courthouse will go on the market shortly after that.

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