Columbia County may spend more to build a proposed courthouse annex in rural Appling than in development-rich Evans.
"In theory, the cost of land in Evans is going to be more expensive, but you already have existing infrastructure," said County Commissioner Pete Brodie. "If you go to Appling, you have to build the infrastructure. So it is pretty much a wash in terms of total dollars."
Voters will be asked in July to approve a new courthouse annex and/or an addition to the county jail. They also will have the choice of where to build the annex -- in Appling or Evans.
The annex -- a 76,000-square-foot building estimated to cost $11 million -- will be a 2 1/2 -story building with three courtrooms; separate entrances for the public, county staff and prisoners; and office space for magistrate, probate and superior courts. The courtrooms are designed to keep jurors, spectators and inmates apart.
Regardless of where the annex is built -- if it is built -- county officials expect to buy six to 10 acres of land.
If voters decide a courthouse annex should be built in Appling -- where land sells for an average of $6,500 an acre -- they will also have to finance a $2.5 million water and sewer treatment plant.
"That would bring sewage treatment into the entire Appling area and would give additional capacity to growth in that area," Mr. Brodie said. "I think in the next three to five years, you are going to see that happen anyway, because I think that is the prime area for new economic development."
The estimated price for 10 acres and water and sewer connections in the Appling area: $3.1 million. In the Evans area, the estimated cost for land and utility connections would be $750,000.
The county could save by building the annex in Evans, where water and sewer lines already exist. But officials could easily pay $45,000 an acre in Evans, said John Capes, president of VIP Realty. His company is marketing land in the Evans area for about $60,000 an acre.
While Mr. Brodie said he has not seen a comprehensive list of land prices, he acknowledged land could cost $75,000 per acre, especially commercial land.
"If you are talking about Washington Road frontage, you are talking about substantial dollars," Mr. Brodie said. "If you are talking about something on a secondary road like North Belair, probably less dollars."