After opening a new courthouse late last year, Delaware County officials earlier this month confirmed their commitment to renovating the historic courthouse building across the street.

County commissioners March 8 voted 2-0 to approve a contract worth up to $65,000 with Columbus-based Schooley Caldwell Associates for architecture and design work on the project to revamp the historic building at 91 N. Sandusky St. to prepare it for office use. The county in November opened a new five-story courthouse on the east side of North Sandusky Street.

Jon Melvin, facilities director for the county, said the contract for design work on the old courthouse likely will not be the last agreement regarding the project.

"This contract takes (the project) through conceptual design," he said. "They'll come in first and do the physical assessment of the building."

Melvin said commissioners will need to approve a change order after the firm and the county agree on the full scope of the project.

Melvin said county officials could review the firm's conceptual plan for the project by June. He said the county could go out to bid for construction by November, with workers possibly arriving at the site by January.

"I do think that's a little bit of a conservative schedule, not knowing the full scope of the construction documents they have to develop depending on how intensely we renovate the building," he said.

Melvin said construction efforts on the building could take nine months to a year. He said the project could be completed sooner if county officials decide to go ahead with "lighter" renovation efforts.

Commissioner Gary Merrell said any efforts that could be made to expedite the project would be appreciated.

"I think the other commissioners would agree, we'd like to (complete the project) sooner rather than later," he said.

The historic courthouse, which was constructed in the 1860s, eventually could house offices for the commissioners and the county's human resources department, among other entities.

The old courthouse also could serve as the new home for the Delaware County Law Library and the Fifth District Court of Appeals, which are housed at the historic jail and sheriff's residence. The county is attempting to sell that building, which sits just west of the old courthouse at 20 W. Central Ave.

Commissioner Jeff Benton said he thinks a new buyer could "repurpose that building and save it."

The county, which has set no minimum bid, will accept sealed offers for the property until 2 p.m. April 5.

"(The jail) is seeing some real interest, which is very, very encouraging," Benton said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@twgallick