Courthouse ops to move over to old Aspen City Hall
With Armory vacated by city, final phase of courthouse renovation can occur in 2022
Chock it up to good timing for Pitkin County that the city of Aspen moved out of the old Armory building, leaving it empty so courthouse operations can move in this spring.
Pitkin County in early 2022 will move its 9th Judicial District operations to the old City Hall so it can finish the final phase of a multi-year, $5 million renovation of the historic county courthouse.
Work on the two courtrooms, judges’ chambers, the staircase and the rest of the third floor will be disruptive enough that the building needs to close to the public and staff, Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said Tuesday.
District and county courtrooms, as well as offices for judicial staff, will be set up in the Armory building on Galena Street from at least March through September.
The county will lease roughly half of the building, around 7,000 square feet, and will include former council chambers and the Sister Cities room in the basement, a portion of the first floor and all of the second level, according to Rob Schober, the city’s capital asset director.
The city moved the bulk of its operations to the new City Hall on Rio Grande Place last month, with the exception of the utilities and IT departments, which are still in the Armory and will share the space with the county.
Prior to the Armory being vacated, Peacock said he was hard-pressed to find another space to accommodate courthouse operations.
“We were having trouble finding a single space,” he said, adding that the Bil Dunaway Community Room at the library and some administrative offices were options. “It was challenging.”
Having it all in one place for the public, staff and attorneys will save taxpayers money and be more convenient than multiple locations, Peacock added.
Due to the pandemic, some courtroom dockets have backed up and using the Armory will help get through those calendars more efficiently.
“The city has been great in working with us to maintain this community service,” Peacock said.
The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners and Aspen City Council will eventually vote to approve a lease between the governments.
While that happens, the city is planning on a public outreach effort at the beginning of the year to hear from citizens on what they want to the Armory to be used for.
Council is scheduled to discuss that during a Feb. 7 work session.
Some ideas that have been floated in recent months include a food court with affordable fare, a community center, a gathering place for live music and a dance hall.
The Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which is currently housed in the city’s Old Power House building on North Mill Street, is slated to move into the first floor of armory in a couple of years.
The power house is scheduled for a $3.5 million renovation in 2024, which is a year after the old Armory is slated for an overhaul.
A placeholder in the 2022 budget has armory renovations at $7.5 million but that may change after council decides what the building will be used for.
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